Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh were out of the lineup with injuries, and rookies Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath stepped in Saturday. They were the first pair of Rangers freshmen to do so since McDonagh and Michael Sauer played in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in Washington on April 23, 2011.
Skjei, who played 19:02, was credited with his first point in his ninth NHL game, an assist on Derick Brassard’s goal at 12:56 of the second period.
“It’s good to get one,” said Skjei, 21, who said he didn’t have time to think about it. “You just keep playing . . . Hopefully more will come.”
McIlrath, who did not dress in Game 1, played only 9:07, with almost half of that in the first period, when he had a shot on goal and three attempts blocked.
“I thought they responded well,’’ coach Alain Vig neault said. “Both young men gave us important minutes.”
Stepan checked for concussion
The physical tenor of the game sent Derek Stepan into the trainer’s room for concussion testing in the third period after he was checked from behind by Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy, crashed headfirst into the corner boards and lay on the ice for a few seconds.
“Obviously, I feel like I’m in a vulnerable position,” Stepan said. “But I’m not saying anything else about it. I’m fine.”
Stepan, who had four shots and won eight of 18 faceoffs, left for the dressing room with just under seven minutes to play. “I had to do the protocol and I was back on the bench a few minutes later,” he said.
Help from Hartford
The Rangers are off Sunday but are expected to summon reserves from the Hartford Wolf Pack, which has been eliminated from playoff contention. One will be veteran defenseman Raphael Diaz, who was considered for a call-up during the season but was injured.