The Rangers’ game in Ottawa on Saturday has been postponed by the NHL because of an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Senators, the league announced Monday.
The league said three Senators games — Tuesday in Newark against the Devils and home games Thursday against Nashville and Saturday against the Rangers — have been postponed because 10 of Ottawa’s players, plus assistant coach Jack Capuano, are in COVID-19 protocol.
Cases of COVID-19 are spiking in Ottawa, and the Senators have been playing with a depleted roster for a while now.
The Senators’ training facilities have been closed to the players at least through Saturday. For the moment, they are expected to resume their normal schedule next Monday on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. The three postponed games will be rescheduled.
For the Rangers, the schedule change lightens a load that originally had them playing six games in nine days. Saturday would have been the front end of a back-to-back that was to have continued at 6 p.m. Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Rangers — who were off Monday after playing back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against Columbus and the Devils — are at home Tuesday against Montreal and in Toronto on Thursday before facing the Sabres.
A relief for Lafreniere
Alexis Lafreniere’s goal drought wasn’t as long as Kaapo Kakko’s, but it was just as real to the second-year forward. And as huge as it was for Kakko to score his first goal of the season Sunday in the Rangers’ 4-3 shootout win over the Devils at the Garden, it was big for Lafreniere to get his first goal in seven games in the second period of the same game.
"For sure you think about it a little bit,’’ he said when asked about going through a six-game stretch without a point before Sunday. "As an offensive player, you always want to produce. But if you go out there, practices, games, work hard, I think it’s going to come.’’
Unlike Kakko, Lafreniere had scored this season. In fact, he had three goals — including two game-winners — and an assist in his first eight games.
But he’d been called out by coach Gerard Gallant after the Rangers’ 5-1 loss to Calgary on Oct. 25. Since then, he’d been in a funk, including spending a game on the fourth line on Nov. 5 in Edmonton.
The Rangers offered no update on forward Sammy Blais, who appeared to suffer a serious right knee injury Sunday . . . The team returned C Greg McKegg to AHL Hartford, which indicates that Filip Chytil, on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, could be ready to return for Tuesday’s game . . . Chris Kreider scored the winner in the seventh round of the shootout Sunday in only his second career shootout attempt and first in eight years. "To be honest with you, he was hiding on the end of the bench,’’ Gallant joked. "Kreids is great. He’s a confident player right now.’’