COLUMBUS, Ohio — Without forwards Kaapo Kakko (on injured reserve with an upper-body injury), and Filip Chytil (out with a lower-body injury), Rangers coach Gerard Gallant had to move some pieces around in order to fill a couple of spots in his top three forward lines Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Gallant opted to keep Barclay Goodrow on the right wing with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome and put Julien Gauthier on the right wing with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad to start the game.
But with the Rangers trailing and on their way to a 5-3 loss, Gallant moved third-line left wing Alexis Lafreniere onto the Kreider-Zibanejad line in place of Gauthier. Zibanejad scored a power-play goal early in the third to pull the Rangers within 4-3, but the changes didn’t change the Rangers’ fortunes.
Warning goes unheeded
Gallant, who had warned at the morning skate that Columbus would be fired up after getting outshot 62-23 in a 6-0 home loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, didn’t have an answer as to why his team apparently wasn’t ready to match Columbus’ energy level.
"Tonight, I think there was three guys that I was really happy with,’’ he said. "And the rest of the guys were below what they usually are.’’
One player whom Gallant was happy with was rookie defenseman Braden Schneider, who had two assists. Schneider got some power-play time after Adam Fox left the game with an upper-body injury and assisted on Zibanejad’s goal.
"He played really well,’’ Gallant said.
D Patrik Nemeth and F Filip Chytil did not make the trip. Chytil is "day-to-day’’ and could play Friday, Gallant said. Nemeth has a personal issue and was moved off the active roster to non-roster status . . . RW Jonny Brodzinski and D Zac Jones were recalled to the active roster. Fs Tim Gettinger and Lauri Pajuniemi and Ds Nils Lundkvist and Tarmo Reunanen were recalled to the taxi squad.