Brennan Othmann of the Rangers looks on against the Canucks at...

Brennan Othmann of the Rangers looks on against the Canucks at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 8. Credit: Jim McIsaac

NEWARK – With the status of forwards Artemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey a question mark, the Rangers called up forward Brennan Othmann Thursday in case one of the two was unable to play. Both Panarin and Vesey were considered game-time decisions as far as their availability for the game, according to coach Peter Laviolette.

“We want to make sure we’ve got the right amount of players to go,’’ Laviolette said before the game of Othmann’s call-up from AHL Hartford.

All 23 players on the roster – including spare defenseman Zac Jones and Hartford call-up Alex Belzile – dressed for warmups, but Panarin and Vesey skated with their regular lines in the line rushes and were in the lineup. Othmann, Belzile and Jones all were scratched.

Panarin, the Rangers’ leading scorer, and Vesey both missed practice Wednesday. Panarin was out with a lower-body injury, the result of inadvertently blocking a shot in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Dallas, and Vesey sat out due to a lower-body injury. Because the Rangers opted not to have a morning skate in Newark, Laviolette said he didn’t know beforehand whether Panarin or Vesey was good to go.

Laviolette OK with Rempe's hit on Bastian

Laviolette was asked his opinion on the match penalty forward Matt Rempe received on his only shift of the game for his check to the head of Devils forward Nathan Bastian in the first period.

“I don't know. That's just a big man,’’ he said of Rempe, who is 6-8 1/2. “And everything is down. There's nothing that's up. He never lifted his arm. I'm glad the player came back and played and was not hurt from that hit. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, but it's just tough. [Rempe]'s a big guy. He's he was full steam ahead and kept everything down and tried to go through the body.’’

Bastian was bloodied by the hit, but returned to the game. After the hit, Rempe was challenged to a fight by Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, but Rempe ended the fight with two punches that dropped Siegenthaler to the ice. Both players got roughing penalties.

Blue notes

Igor Shesterkin started his third straight game in net after his 41-save performance in the win over Dallas … Nico Daws started in net for the Devils… Laviolette was asked if the speed of Devils center Jack Hughes was a similar problem to the one caused by Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon. “They're a little bit different, I would say, in their game,’’ he said. “They're both capable of attacking off the rush, attacking in small areas. But I think their game is a little bit different. But both are dynamic.’’ 

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