One week before their regular season opener, the Rangers dressed what looked like their opening night lineup Wednesday night against the Devils. Igor Shesterkin started in goal, with the plan being for him to play the entire game; Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin played in the same game for the first time in the preseason, and of the players expected to be in the opening night lineup, only Vitali Kravtsov, out since suffering a lower body injury in Friday’s game, and Patrik Nemeth were not dressed.
Against a Devils team with few familiar names in it, the Rangers won, 6-2, with Zibanejad scoring two goals, and Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Sammy Blais and Barclay Goodrow getting one each. But the bigger news for the Blueshirts was that forward Ryan Reaves, one of the players brought in over the summer to add grit and toughness, left the game midway through the first period after suffering what looked like it could be a serious knee injury.
After the game, coach Gerard Gallant said Reaves’ status is day-to-day, and suggested the injury was not as bad as it appeared. And he brushed off any notion that the 34-year-old might be out for an extended period.
"No, I don't think so,’’ he said. "Not from what indications I've heard so far. But again you'll know more tomorrow or the next day.’’
Reaves was engaged in the right wing corner of the offensive zone with Devils defenseman P.K. Subban when he fell backward and his left knee seemed to buckle awkwardly. On video replay, Subban’s left skate appears to sweep Reaves’ right skate out from under him, and Reaves’ left skate appeared anchored where it was and the knee bent awkwardly as Reaves fell. He was down for a moment, and seemed to be in great pain. He was helped off the ice with 9:59 showing on the clock and with a grimace on his face.
Chris Kreider took umbrage with Subban, said something to him on the bench, and attempted to fight him after the opening faceoff of the second period. Subban refused to fight and Kreider was given a two-minute roughing penalty, plus a 10-minute misconduct, while Subban was given a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Then, on the opening faceoff of the third period, Subban attacked Kreider and the two each got five-minute fighting penalties.
Finally, Subban and Goodrow were each given 10-minute misconduct penalties with 9:56 remaining in the game.
Gallant didn’t think Subban deliberately tried to injure Reaves, but he didn’t seem upset at his team’s response.
"Anytime your guy gets hurt, [players are] going to do something,’’ Gallant said. "I don't think it was a vicious hit, or a slew foot . . . I don't think there was any intent there at all. It should have been a, probably a two-minute penalty at best, but I don't think P.K. meant to cause the injury. But you know, when you when you see a guy get hurt and guys step up and do a little bit of a response there, that's what you want.’’