Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left Thursday night’s game with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot in the first period, and coach David Quinn said the rookie is “day-to-day.’’
Lindgren, 21, was allowed to play in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Devils after being cleared by the NHL, which investigated his hit on Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi in the first period of Tuesday night’s game that knocked Donskoi out of the game. Donskoi entered the concussion protocol, the team said Thursday.
“There’s some hits in hockey that I’ve had where I know I’m going to get a penalty, or I know that . . . maybe it was a little crossing the line,’’ Lindgren said at the morning skate. “That, when I hit him, I knew it wasn’t a penalty.’’
Lindgren wasn’t penalized for the hit, but Colorado’s Nazem Kadri immediately attacked the rookie defenseman and punished him in a fight, opening a cut below Lindgren’s right eye that required stitches and forced him to leave the game.
Kadri was given a minor instigator penalty, a five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct. Lindgren received only a fighting major.
The NHL decided to investigate and interviewed Lindgren on the phone Wednesday.
Ultimately, the league’s Department of Player Safety ruled that “while there was significant head contact on this play, Lindgren took a proper angle of approach, did not extend outward or upward and hit through Donskoi’s core,” making the head contact unavoidable and not worthy of supplemental discipline from the league.
“It’s really a textbook check,’’ Quinn said. “It’s very unfortunate, the result. But [Lindgren] was tight, wasn’t aiming for the head.’’
Said Lindgren, “You never want to hurt a player. I [wish] him the best . . . But I thought I did a good job of trying to keep it clean.’’
As for the fight, Lindgren said he was “dumb’’ to not anticipate that one of Donskoi’s teammates would come after him. Kadri, he said, “got the jump on me, real quick, and started pounding away before I really could grab him or defend myself.’’
Lindgren said he was not bothered by the fact that he had to fight after making a clean hit.
“I respect guys who protect their teammates and stand up for their teammates,’’ he said. “Their team probably didn’t see it as a clean hit, so for him to come at me like that, I personally don’t have a problem with it.’’
Lindgren said he learned a lesson: “Make sure I protect myself and get ready for someone to come at me’’ the next time he delivers a big hit.