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Rangers forward Kevin Hayes misses second straight game with 'nagging' injury

New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes looks on

New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes looks on against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Hayes missed his second straight game on Sunday because of an upper-body injury, one that Rangers coach David Quinn has termed “nagging.’’ The team’s second-leading scorer remains day-to-day.

“He’s got an injury that, it really all depends on how he feels when he wakes up,’’ Quinn said of Hayes, who first suffered the injury when he crashed hard into the end boards in the first game the Rangers played against Arizona, a 4-3 overtime loss at the Garden on Dec. 14.

Hayes has 10 goals and 23 assists and is second on the team in scoring behind Mika Zibanejad (11-23-34).

“It’s really nothing long term, but hopefully he feels better tomorrow,’’ Quinn said.

With Hayes out, Quinn again used 19-year-old rookie Filip Chytil as the team’s No. 2 center, playing him between Mats Zuccarello, who shifted to left wing, and Ryan Strome, promoted from the fourth line.

Vladislav Namestnikov dropped to the third line with Brett Howden and Pavel Buchnevich. Jimmy Vesey played on the fourth line with Boo Nieves and Cody McLeod.

Smith in, Claesson out

Quinn made one change on defense, inserting Brendan Smith in place of Fredrik Claesson. Smith took an untimely elbowing penalty at 6:37 of the first period that led to the Coyotes’ first goal. Smith did not play the rest of the period, but he did take a regular shift in the second and third and finished with 15:49 of ice time . . . Defenseman Neal Pionk, usually the Rangers’ leader in ice time (22:55 per game coming in), fought Coyotes forward Josh Archibald in the second period and received a cross-checking minor in addition to the fighting major. Pionk had 18:49 in ice time . . . The Rangers are scheduled to practice in Las Vegas on Monday.

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