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Chris Kreider doesn’t return to ice after first period vs. Capitals

After the Rangers’ 1-0 victory, coach Alain Vigneault said Kreider suffered an upper-body injury.

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider skates during a

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider skates during a game against the Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Chris Kreider did not return after the first period on Wednesday night.

Kreider, who appeared in all 37 games, played 5:04 on seven shifts, with two shots, in the first period. After the Rangers’ 1-0 victory, coach Alain Vigneault said Kreider suffered an upper-body injury.

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” said Vigneault.

With 28 seconds left in the first period, Kreider nearly scored on a deflection from the high slot. Pavel Buchnevich took his spot to begin the second. It is possible that the left wing, who has 11 goals and 22 points, was ill.

Buchnevich (11-14-25), who had one goal and two assists in the last 11 games, had been dropped to the fourth line.

“Butchies been going up and down here in the last three games,” coach Alain Vigneault had said. “He’s been a good player for us, and he’ll be a good player again.” The Russian winger leads the team in points at home with 20 in 23 games.

Mika struggling

Another of the Rangers most consistent scorers, Mika Zibanejad, hasn’t been as productive lately, and Vigneault didn’t shy away from expressing his displeasure in his recent performances.

In three games since missing nine with a concussion, Zibanejad’s game has “been average”, Vigneault said prior to the game. Indeed, the team’s No. 1 center had no points, seven shots and is a minus-1. “He needs to find his game, he needs to be more involved, more committed to make some plays with the puck, win some puck battles,” Vigneault said. He has 11 goals and 22 points on the season.

Zibanejad came up big Wednesday night. He scored in the shootout and won 11 of 15 faceoffs during the game.

Blue notes

In his 500th game as a Ranger, Ryan McDonagh led all skaters with seven blocked shots and tied for the team-high with four hits while playing a game-high 25:28. . . . Mats Zuccarello’s goal was the decider in the shootout, the ninth such goal of his career . . . Defenseman Steven Kampfer was a healthy scratch for the 12th straight game. “I’ve given it some thought, but tonight, I wanted to go with what we have,” Vigneault said. Kampfer has played just 13 games . . . Jesper Fast, who missed his second game with a quad strain, will not make the trip to Detroit and is still expected to be out another week at least.

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