Filip Chytil returned to the Rangers lineup Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres after missing five weeks and 14 games, with a hand injury.
"Fil always gives you moments where he jumps off the page at you, because he's got that great speed,’’ coach David Quinn said of Chytil, who played 16:08 and was credited with one shot on goal. "But you know, listen he's only had … two real practices with the team. He'd been out a long time. You know, we were just hoping he got through it healthy. And he gave us a little bit of speed, a little bit of a jolt, but certainly he's finding his game and you know it may take a little bit of time before he gets back to where he left off.’’
Chytil was injured in Pittsburgh Jan. 24, when he collided with Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues. He had two goals and an assist in his first five games, and was the team’s best center at the time. During his absence, the 21-year-old Czech came down with COVID-19. He returned to practice with the team last Thursday, but did not play in either of the team’s two games with Boston, Friday and Sunday.
Chytil centered the third line, with Kevin Rooney and Julien Gauthier as his wingers. Jonny Brodzinski, who played three games with the team as a replacement for Artemi Panarin (leave), was scratched.
Forward Kaapo Kakko was taken off the team’s COVID-19 list and Quinn said the 20-year-old will begin his return to play protocol. Kakko missed his fifth game during his stint, which began Feb. 18… Quinn said he speaks to Panarin every day and the Russian forward has been skating on his own. "We’re just waiting, day-to-day for the right time for him to come back,’’ Quinn said. Panarin missed his fourth game since taking leave from the team after a former KHL coach of his accused him of beating a woman in Riga, Latvia in 2011… Quinn said D Jacob Trouba, who missed his sixth game with a broken thumb, "is making a lot of good progress. We’re expecting him back sooner than later.’’ … D Anthony Bitetto (lower body injury) missed his third straight game.