New York Rangers center Barclay Goodrow skates against the Anaheim...

New York Rangers center Barclay Goodrow skates against the Anaheim Ducks in the first period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When he was asked on Friday if either Barclay Goodrow, who has been skating on his own, or Sammy Blais, who has been taking part in optional practices and morning skates, might play for the Rangers in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, coach Gerard Gallant was clear and definitive in saying no.

“I see it, hopefully, in the near future,’’ he said. “But it’s not tomorrow.’’

But when the Rangers took the ice for pregame warm-ups, Goodrow, who had not played since blocking a shot with his left foot in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was dressed and taking part, centering a fourth line between Tyler Motte on the left and Ryan Reaves on the right.

“When I talked to you guys, you probably thought I was lying,’’ Gallant said. “But I didn’t know anything at that time. And then obviously, I got a call later in the day and I was told he was cleared. So I wasn’t lying. Trust me.’’

Goodrow ended up playing 13 minutes and 16 seconds, including 3:15 of penalty-killing time, and Gallant was happy to have him.

“What he’s done in the last couple of years with the Stanley Cups [with Tampa Bay] and a leader, a character guy on our team,’’ Gallant said. “His overall play, he kills penalties and the whole works, so he’s huge for our club.’’

Goodrow replaced Kevin Rooney, who had played in each of the first 12 games of the postseason.  

Rangers stay disciplined

The teams got chippy toward the end, drawing a combined eight penalties in the third period. Former Ranger Tony DeAngelo got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for shooting the puck into the Rangers’ net after a stoppage in play and Sebastian Aho got a rare roughing penalty with 5:21 remaining in the game.

Gallant said he was happy that his team restrained itself and didn’t get caught up in any shenanigans.

“It’s more important to win the game than taking a stupid penalty,’’ he said. “Let them go in the box if they want to do something silly. I like a tough team. I like a tough game. But this time of the year, discipline is the most important thing, and I’m proud of our guys to do that.’’  

Fox credits Hurricanes

After Thursday’s 3-1 loss in Game 5, one of the things Gallant said about his players’ performance in the game was that they looked “tired.’’

Defenseman Adam Fox, talking to reporters before Game 6, didn’t admit to being tired in that game but preferred to credit the Hurricanes for making the Rangers look that way.

“Credit to them,’’ Fox said. “They did a good job of staying on top of us, slowing us down. You see how they play in that building: They tend to stay on top of guys and slow them down. And so, yeah, I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot of words you could use for how we looked, but overall, it just wasn’t good enough.’’

Fox, who led the Rangers with an average ice time of 26:58 entering the game, played 26:03 Saturday and had two assists.

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