Igor Shesterkin did not practice Friday after leaving Thursday’s 6-1 win over the Devils in Newark with 5:22 left in the third period, unable to put weight on his right leg.
Rangers coach David Quinn did not have an update on Shesterkin’s status in his Zoom call with the media immediately after practice, saying Shesterkin was still seeing the doctor.
Later in the afternoon, the team posted an update on Twitter saying Shesterkin officially is day-to-day with a mild groin strain.
Alexandar Georgiev replaced Shesterkin on Thursday and will start Saturday afternoon against the Devils in the second of the two-game series, Quinn said. Long Islander Keith Kinkaid, the taxi squad goalie, is the likely backup.
With the Rangers up 4-1 and on a power play Thursday, the Devils broke in shorthanded on a two-on-one, with Jesper Bratt carrying the puck up the right wing. As Bratt passed the puck to Damon Severson, Shesterkin pushed off from left to right to square up for Severson’s one-timer. The shot went high, and Shesterkin, his legs split wide open, suddenly fell face-first to the ice.
He remained down for several moments, tended to by athletic trainer Jim Ramsay until teammates helped him off.
Kakko will return
Kaapo Kakko, who has missed six games after going on the team’s COVID-19 list, will return to the lineup Saturday, Quinn said.
"I’m feeling better,’’ Kakko said. "I was out 12 days, and right now I’m feeling better and ready to go.’’
Kakko, 20, said he was "sick, a little bit, but not too bad.’’ He might be considered high-risk for the virus because he is a diabetic and has celiac disease. Those who suffer from the autoimmune disease cannot eat gluten.
Kakko had two goals and one assist in 14 games, but he was one of the Rangers’ most dynamic forwards before he was put on the COVID-19 list Feb. 20. He skated at practice with red-hot Chris Kreider (nine goals in his last six games) and Ryan Strome.
"They are both playing good right now,’’ Kakko said. "I think it’s easier for me to come back.’’
Quinn wasn’t asked if defenseman Jacob Trouba (seven games missed with a broken thumb) will play Saturday, but he practiced at full contact . . . Defenseman Anthony Bitetto (lower-body injury) did not practice with the team . . . Quinn benched center Mika Zibanejad for the first half of the second period Thursday, and the coach was asked how he performed at practice. "Nothing’s changed from my end with him,’’ Quinn said. "He and I have had plenty of conversations. There’s no surprises here, [and] I was happy with the uptick in play [Thursday] after he sat for a little bit." . . . Judging by the line combinations at practice, Colin Blackwell could be the odd man out with Kakko returning to the lineup. Blackwell was the fourth player on the third line with Kevin Rooney, Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier. Quinn wouldn’t confirm who will be out . . . Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov had a goal and an assist in Traktor Chelyabinsk’s 3-2 overtime loss to Salavat Yulaev in Game 2 of their KHL first-round playoff series. The best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1. Game 3 is Sunday.