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Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich mired in slump as pointless streak reaches nine games

Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the Rangers sits on

Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the Rangers sits on the ice after he was hit in the head during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Pavel Buchnevich is frustrated.

He’s frustrated that he got elbowed in the face in Anaheim, a hit that left a bruise on his cheek for a while. In the next game, he got elbowed in the back of the head — a hit that could have been a major penalty, or maybe even worth a suspension, but turned out to be a two-minute minor and nothing more.

“I think it’s a dirty hit — I don’t know,’’ Buchnevich said Thursday of the elbow he took from Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis in the second period of Monday’s 5-2 loss. “It’s an elbow to the head. I don’t know how guys like the NHL [Player Safety] didn’t watch it. But he’s kind of a good guy. When I came back, he said, four or five times, before almost every shift, ‘Sorry, it’s my bad.’ ’’

Buchnevich underwent concussion testing after the hit, but he came back and finished the game. He appreciated Ellis’ apologies, and he was able to let the play go after the game was over.

What he has a harder time letting go was that he failed to score — again — despite six shots on goal in 16 minutes and 10 seconds of ice time. It was his ninth consecutive game without a goal or an assist, and that is eating him up.

“I got chances the last couple games,’’ he said. “The last three, maybe, games. I’ve gotten more ice time the last four, maybe, games.’’

What, he was asked, can he do differently.

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “Just play my way. Like, create some chances. I don’t feel I’m playing my worst — it just doesn’t go in. It’s not only me. It’s a lot of people. And I realize it’s a long season, with a lot of ups and downs [but] I want to be consistent, and not have a nine-game streak without a point. That’s too much.’’

Coach David Quinn has had his frustrations at times with Buchnevich, whom he once, playfully, called “Mr. Happy’’ after a game in which Buchnevich showed his frustration after missing a scoring chance. But the coach isn’t frustrated with the Russian winger now.

“I thought ‘Buchie’ had a really good night the other night,’’ Quinn said. “He had some great chances. And it actually started in the third period against Anaheim [a 4-3 shootout loss in the last game of a Western road trip on Saturday]. But the more chances you get, the law of averages, you're going to score more goals. So, let's get inside those hash marks, and have an attitude, and live around there, where you might get one off someone's ankle, someone's [butt], someone's knee pad. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that.’’

Buchnevich, whose five goals and 14 assists have him fifth on the team in scoring (19 points), admitted his confidence is low right now. And he thinks Quinn is probably right.

“It just, sometimes, doesn’t like you. It just doesn’t go in,’’ he said. “And sometimes [ugly] goals come, and I don’t know. I think I need to score a goal and maybe get a couple apples [assists] and get back my confidence, and I’ll play well. I think.’’

Notes & quotes: Quinn said Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal Friday against Toronto. Georgiev started three games against Toronto last season and went 2-1 with a 2.01 goals against average and a .956 save percentage. He beat the Maple Leafs, 4-1, last Feb. 10 on his 23rd birthday at the Garden, making a career-high 55 saves.

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