COLUMBUS, Ohio — Neither defenseman Marc Staal nor forward Greg McKegg, both of whom practiced fully on Wednesday and made the trip, were in the lineup. Staal missed his 13th game after surgery on his right ankle Nov. 8; McKegg missed his fifth game with a lower body injury suffered in a 6-5 win over the Canadiens Nov. 23.
“They’re both in similar situations, with those lower body injuries, and might take a little bit more time than you would envision,’’ coach David Quinn said. “And you know, that after the practice yesterday, I just didn’t feel like either of them looked game ready just quite yet. But they’re getting closer.’’
But an injury to defenseman Libor Hajek, who left the game after the first period with a sprained knee, likely will force Staal back in on Friday. Hajek had been the most likely candidate to come out of the lineup to make room for Staal anyway. The 21-year-old rookie had played in every game this season, but he left the arena with a heavy brace on his right knee. Quinn said it was too early to know how long he’ll be out.
Quinn challenged the second Blue Jackets goal because he believed Josh Anderson interfered with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.
“I thought their guy, if you watch a replay, [jammed his] stick in [Georgiev’s] gut before the shot, so, seemed like like goalie interference,’’ Quinn said. “Apparently, I was wrong.’’
Artemi Panarin wasn’t the only former Blue Jacket going back to Columbus. Team president John Davidson came back to the Rangers after serving as the Blue Jackets president. They ran a tribute video for Davidson, as well, and there were all cheers . . . Micheal Haley was the team’s healthy scratch.