Jacob Trouba of the Rangers prepares for a game against the...

Jacob Trouba of the Rangers prepares for a game against the Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27, 2023. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

GREENBURGH – The rest of the Rangers made their return from the NHL All-Star break on Monday with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden. But their captain, Jacob Trouba, won’t get to make his return until Wednesday when the Blueshirts play the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden. And he’s ready for it.

“I thought we played well in a pretty gutsy win [Monday], to stick with it and get [the tying goal] pretty late in the third and then win in overtime,’’ Trouba said following Tuesday’s short practice. “I feel like guys are a little more [energetic], coming back from break, and I think that yesterday was a good example of a big win for us. So I'm excited to get back in the lineup.’’

Trouba missed the last two games – the final game before the break and the first one after the break – because of a two-game suspension he received for elbowing Vegas forward Pavel Dorofeyev in a game Jan. 26. The Rangers managed to win both games he missed. Hartford call-up Connor Mackey played well in his place in the 7-2 win in Ottawa Jan. 27 and seventh defenseman Zac Jones played well Monday.

Still, coach Peter Laviolette will be happy to have Trouba back in the lineup against the Lightning.

“He plays a hard brand of hockey,’’ Laviolette said. “He's the captain of this team. When you're missing a piece like that, it's tough. It's nice guys stepped up. I thought Mackey stepped up and played a big game. [Braden] Schneider stepped up in his shoes and played a big game. Jones stepped up and played a big game. All the ‘D’ men had to do a little bit more … I think our guys did a good job of covering for him.’’

Trouba, always the voice of calm after tough losses, said the long period of mediocrity the Rangers have gone through –  they are 13-12-2 in their last 27 games – may turn out to be a good thing down the road.

“I think the resiliency, what you can expect that your teammates in tough times … when you get in a playoff series, that can be one or two [bad] games, and you know what it takes to kind of get out of it,’’ he said. “You always hear adversity is a good thing to go through throughout the year. We definitely have been through some, but I think when you come out on the other side, you'll be a closer team and have a better understanding of what makes us successful.’’

Notes & quotes: The Rangers placed C Nick Bonino on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract, according to a report. Bonino had been waived and assigned to AHL Hartford before the break and was given time to decide if he wished to report. He opted to not report and preferred to have his contract terminated. Bonino, who signed as a free agent last summer, played 45 games and had a goal and four assists with a minus-12 rating … Mackey was returned to Hartford.

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