Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has missed 21 games following a repair to a torn meniscus in his left knee, took part in the Rangers’ morning skate Tuesday for the first time since his Jan. 22 surgery, and coach Alain Vigneault said his return to the lineup is close.
“He’s been skating for a while,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s coming along. I think him and ‘Rammer’ [Rangers athletic trainer Jim Ramsay] have sort of narrowed down a plan for him to play. We’re looking at the next couple weeks.’’
Shattenkirk, 29, signed a four-year, $26.6-million free- agent contract with the Rangers last summer. He has five goals and 18 assists in 46 games. His last game was Jan. 18, a 4-3 win over Buffalo that lifted the Rangers’ record to 24-17-5. The team went 6-13-1 in the first 20 games it played since he went out of the lineup.
n Sick Zibanejad sits
Center Mika Zibanejad, who had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 Rangers victory over the Edmonton Oilers, missed the morning skate and did not play in the Rangers’ game against Winnipeg Tuesday because he has flu-like symptoms, the team said. The Rangers did not recall a forward from AHL Hartford, so Peter Holland stepped into the lineup.
n USA women’s gold medal winners cheered
As they wrap up their victory tour following their gold medal performance in the Olympics, the USA women’s hockey team split up, with some members going to the Devils game in Newark and some coming to the Ranger game. The Rangers group was introduced and shown on the video board during a break in the action in the first period, and received applause and chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!’’
“It’s been incredible everywhere we go — especially if we have our USA stuff on,’’ Forward Dani Cameranesi told reporters before the game. “Everyone’s so proud, and just coming back to home soil and seeing the impact that we’ve had and how our sport really reached out to everyone and kind of brought the USA together is really, really incredible.’’
Forward Hannah Brandt said she never tires of hearing the same questions everywhere she goes.
“I think it’s so cool to be able to share this with everyone, and just to hear everyone’s stories about how they watched the game, or how they were inspired by our game, that’s so cool to us,’’ Brandt said. “And that gives us energy to keep going around and talking to everyone about it.’’
Several members of the gold-medal winning USA women’s hockey team attended the game.
“It’s been incredible everywhere we go — especially if we have our USA stuff on,’’ Dani Cameranesi said. “Everyone’s so proud, and just coming back to home soil and seeing the impact that we’ve had and how our sport really reached out to everyone and kind of brought the USA together is really, really incredible.’’