Rangers open Western swing with test vs. Kraken

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The New York Rangers will be missing a bit of their bite when they open a four-game Western road swing Sunday night in Seattle.

Forward Ryan Reaves, who has racked up nearly 1,000 penalty minutes in his NHL career, suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury in a 5-1 loss Monday against Calgary and was placed on injured reserve Thursday night.

That means he will be out at least a week.

“He’s a big guy, he’s played well for us,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s done a good job. It’s a part of the game and injuries happen all the time. So we’re just going to put somebody else in there and go play the game.”

Gallant said Reaves would make the trip with the Rangers and could be activated for the final two games, Friday at Edmonton and Saturday at Calgary.

“He’s an important player,” Gallant said. “… he’s done his job really good.”

The Rangers rebounded from the loss to Calgary, which snapped their four-game winning streak, with a 4-0 victory over Columbus on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his first shutout of the season, Chris Kreider scored two power-play goals and Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin each had three assists.

“He’s athletic, he’s strong, and everything seemed to hit him in the chest,” Gallant said of Shesterkin. “I think he’s one of the top goalies in the league, no doubt.”

Kreider’s goals gave him an NHL-leading five with the man advantage this season, entering Saturday.

The Rangers went 2-for-3 on the power play Friday, after going 1-for-13 in their previous four games. Kreider has all five of New York’s man-advantage goals this season.

“They come in bunches,” Kreider said. “I think we were due. We were getting looks, we were hitting posts, and pucks were going in for us (Friday). The puck was certainly moving quick. We’ve got an incredible four guys up there on the perimeter and the walls, so we’re always a threat to score.”

The expansion Kraken put together their first winning streak, beating Montreal 5-1 Tuesday and Minnesota 4-1 Thursday, both at home.

Haydn Fleury scored twice against the Wild and fellow defenseman Mark Giordano added an empty-net goal, one of two for the Kraken in the final minute. Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves.

“I think that’s a key part of our team. I think all the defensemen on our team have the capability to contribute,” Fleury said. “If we’re going to be a successful team, I think we have to do that. We have to be solid on our own end. But there has to be a second dimension to our game where we can contribute and help drive the offense as well.”

Kraken coach Dave Hakstol preaches that his blueliners must take care of their responsibilities in their own end of the rink first. But he acknowledges with players like Fleury, Giordano and Vince Dunn, there’s the potential for more.

“Every part of the game involves five people. Five people working on the same page,” Hakstol said. “That doesn’t mean it’s scripted. Because in the game of hockey, it’s not scripted. But there is a baseline expectation of roles and different situations. From there, it’s guys being able to be free and make plays within the structure. We’re getting there. You’re seeing more of that naturally get into play as some of that chemistry and some of that familiarity come together.”

–Field Level Media

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