TORONTO – Rangers forward Julien Gauthier had another strong game, along with his third-line linemates, Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere. Gauthier, who has been in and out of the lineup all season, was a force, driving to the net all night, and creating traffic in front and generally making a pest of himself. He was tied with defenseman Jacob Trouba with five shots on goal for the game.
"He's playing real well,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of Gauthier, who scored his first goal of the season Tuesday against Montreal. "It's good to see. I mean, he had a couple of great chances tonight. And he scored the other night. So now we'd like to say he's playing really good. Confident.’’
Gauthier, who had played in six of the first 15 games, has a chance for some extended ice time now that Sammy Blais has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.
It’s been a season of adjustments for defenseman Nils Lundkvist, who is in his first year in North America, after coming over from the Swedish Hockey League. And one of the things he’s had to adjust to is the reality that his place in the lineup is not assured every night.
"Yeah, it's a new thing,’’ Lundkvist said before the Rangers’ loss Thursday to the Maple Leafs. "It's a new thing coming in into the NHL, and it's different from back home, and you're trying to adjust… Every game I get, it's an opportunity to develop, and keep getting better and better. And that is the coach's choice to decide who's playing.’’
Lundkvist, 21, was in the lineup Thursday, his 12th game of the season, and he had one shot on goal and three hits in 15:26 of ice time. He’s been scratched for four games, including the season opener in Washington, when Gallant opted to go with the much bigger, much brawnier Jarred Tinordi.
Artemi Panarin played in his 450th game, and Filip Chytil played in his 200th … C Greg McKegg and Tinordi were the healthy scratches.