The Rangers’ fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Pitlick often are used by coach Peter Laviolette in a checking role, matching up against opponents’ top players and lines. In Monday’s win over Colorado, the trio went up against the speedy Nathan MacKinnon, and didn’t have such a great night against him.
But Wednesday, against the Lightning at the Garden, Laviolette threw his fourth line back into that checking role, matching them up against Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov line, and the group had much greater success.
Kucherov, who is battling MacKinnon for the NHL’s scoring lead, did have one assist, but it came while he was double-shifting, and playing on a different line, and not against Goodrow, Vesey and Pitlick.
And Vesey had two goals, outscoring the Lightning by himself in the Rangers’ 3-1 win.
“Not every night can be a gem for your penalty kill, for 5-on-5, or a goaltender, or a power play, whatever it might be,’’ Laviolette said. “But I do think that there’s roles inside of our team, and there’s responsibility and jobs, and you’ve got to put people back out where you think they can be successful, where you want them to be successful. And I thought that they were an effective line tonight.
Lightning lose Sergachev to injury
Tampa Bay played the final 33 minutes without defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who returned after missing 17 games with a lower-body injury. Sergachev appeared to suffer an injury to his left knee after he tried to check Alexis Lafreniere into the boards with 13 minutes left in the second period, but bounced off him and had his knee twist awkwardly as he fell to the ice. He was taken off on a stretcher.
D Erik Gustafsson left in the second period after taking a puck to the face, but returned for the third period wearing a full faceshield . . . D Jacob Trouba returned after serving his two-game suspension . . . D Zac Jones and F Jake Leschyshyn were scratched.