The Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren is expected to do more of his work in his own end of the ice, but he looked like a seasoned offensive player in scoring his first NHL goal in Sunday’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Panthers.
The 21-year-old rookie defenseman pinched deep in the right-wing corner to win a loose puck and shovel-passed it to Ryan Strome, who relayed it out to Artemi Panarin, who returned the pass to Strome below the goal line. Strome spotted Lindgren sneaking down to the bottom of the right circle and sent a cross-crease pass to him, and Lindgren snapped a shot over the shoulder of goalie Sam Montembeault at 5:06 of the first period.
“It’s kind of a cliche, but it’s definitely something you always dream about, getting that first one,’’ Lindgren said. “All the credit to Stromer, though. I mean, finding me backdoor like that, it was a great play by him.’’
Coach David Quinn said Lindgren’s goal came on “a heck of a shot’’ and said the Minnesota native has “really come on in the last six months.’’
“I’ve just seen a level of confidence that I think he didn’t have last year,’’ Quinn said. “The thing that I’ve liked about his game is his escape ability below the tops of the circles in our end . . . He’s decisive in what he does.’’
Lindgren has formed a solid partnership with fellow 21-year-old rookie Adam Fox of Jericho, a longtime friend with whom he played on the U.S. National Development Team.
“I think we read off each other really well,’’ Lindgren said of himself and Fox. “Obviously, offensively [Fox] is very gifted, but defensively, I think we’re doing a great job, talking to each other, breaking the puck out.’’
With Mika Zibanejad (upper-body injury) missing his sixth straight game and Marc Staal out after injuring his ankle, Micheal Haley was the only healthy scratch for the Rangers.