One year ago Thursday, the Rangers played what turned out to be their final game before the 2019-20 NHL season was paused. Pavel Buchnevich’s goal with 13 seconds left in regulation earned them a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche in Denver.
The next day, March 12, the NHL announced it would pause its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I vividly remember about an hour before the game getting word that the NBA had paused their season,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said. "We certainly knew what was in store for the NHL once that happened. We had just come off a great win in Dallas, going back-to-back playing Colorado, and scored a goal late to tie it, and were looking forward to Phoenix to complete the road trip and make a push to make the playoffs. And unfortunately, that never happened, and the world certainly changed for everybody that day. And that seems like it was three years ago, not a year ago.’’
Kravtsov to head for NY
Vitali Kravtsov’s Traktor Chelyabinsk team was eliminated from the KHL playoffs Thursday, losing to Salavat Yulaev, 3-2, on a penalty shot with 19 seconds left.
Salavat won the best-of-seven series in five games.
Kravtsov, a 21-year-old Russian forward who was the first of the Rangers’ three first-round picks in the 2018 draft, had been on loan at Traktor and now will report to the Blueshirts.
The details of when he will arrive in New York have not been finalized, as he will need to get a work visa and make travel arrangements. Once he arrives, he will need to serve a quarantine period before he can join the Rangers.
Kravtsov had 16 goals and 24 points in 49 regular-season games and two goals and two assists in five playoff games.
"I haven’t watched much of him this year,’’ Quinn said. "We certainly know that he continues to improve and play at a high level.’’
LW Brendan Lemieux and D Libor Hajek returned to the lineup after both sat out Tuesday in Pittsburgh. LW Phil DiGiuseppe and D Jack Johnson were scratched. "We feel like we’re starting to get some depth back, guys are going to be in the lineup,’’ Quinn said. "Libor had been playing some pretty good hockey. He had a little bit of downtick in his play so we gave him a night off, back in. Lemieux’s had a good year. I just thought it was time to kind of give him a breather and get him back in tonight.’’
Quinn switched up his lines midway through the first period, reuniting Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Buchnevich because he wanted them to match up against Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak . . . The Rangers’ penalty-killing streak ended at 14 straight after Boston scored on its first power play . . . Artemi Panarin missed his ninth game since taking his leave from the team, and G Igor Shesterkin missed his fourth with a groin strain.