BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Rangers coach Gerard Gallant wanted to win Saturday’s preseason finale against the Islanders at Webster Bank Arena. But he had a bigger priority than being on the right side of the final score.
"You’d like to have a real good, solid hockey game tonight, but it’s preseason, and knock on wood, you get through the game healthy,’’ he said before the Rangers’ 5-4 overtime win over the Islanders. "So play hard, play well, and the most important thing is trying to get through it healthy.’’
The Rangers did get through it generally healthy, but they got a scare when center Ryan Strome left in the final second of the second period after an open-ice collision with Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield. Both players went down hard, and when Strome got up, he was grabbing his right wrist and grimacing.
"He’s gonna be fine,’’ Gallant said. "Nothing too serious, we don’t think.’’
Asked if there is any concern about Strome being available for Wednesday’s season opener in Washington, Gallant said, "I don’t think so.’’
Fourth-line center Kevin Rooney left with 7:18 remaining after he and the Islanders’ Ross Johnston were given roughing penalties following a scrum in front of the benches. Gallant said Rooney was bleeding from the lip after taking a punch from Johnston. He’s fine, too.
Strome, who skated between Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, scored a goal, banging in the rebound of a shot by K’Andre Miller 39 seconds into the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Forwards Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and the injured Ryan Reaves did not play.
Chytil scores hat trick
Filip Chytil had two third-period goals, the second on a power play to break a 3-3 tie, and then completed the hat trick on a power play in overtime . . . Vitali Kravtsov scored and Alexandar Georgiev (28 saves) played the entire game in net.
Roster decisions looming
With 26 players on the roster, the Rangers will need to make three cuts before Monday’s deadline to be compliant with the NHL's 23-man roster limit. If Reaves is placed on injured reserve that would be one move, and presuming Greg McKegg is returned to Hartford, that would be a second (McKegg was called up and played for the Rangers on Saturday).
But that would still leave one more cut to make. Defenseman Libor Hajek, a 23-year-old, third-year pro who played 44 games for the Rangers last season, did not play Saturday and looks like he might be it. But Hajek would have to be placed on waivers before he could be sent to the AHL and it is unlikely he would clear waivers. Hajek has played 77 games in his career, scoring 3 goals with 7 assists, 28 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-1.
Hartford beat by Bridgeport
The Isles’ Bridgeport farm team beat the Rangers’ Hartford affiliate, 6-3, in a preseason game behind closed doors in Hartford. Jonny Brodzinski, Anthony Greco and Tim Gettinger scored for Hartford.