The Rangers finally got the second half of their top defensive pair back.
Ryan Lindgren returned for their 5-3 elimination-avoiding win over the Penguins on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, after the 24-year-old defenseman had missed the previous three games with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He lined up in his usual spot next to Adam Fox and was in the middle of every physical play he could be, also as usual.
“He’s a character guy, he plays hard,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of Lindgren, who capped the scoring with an empty-net goal. “He plays all the time, and I don’t know how many minutes he played tonight, but it seemed like it was on the ice all night. He’s just one of those guys that make the other people around them better. ”
As a result, Gallant rolled with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Patrick Nemeth served as the seventh defenseman and logged one 16-second shift at the end of the third period. The veteran defenseman was evidently there just in case Lindgren went down again.
It’s the third time this season that Gallant has gone with such a lineup arrangement. All three occasions resulted in victories.
Lindgren chipped in three shots on goal, two blocked shots, one hit and one takeaway in the win, as well.
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“[Lindgren] just keeps going and battles, ”Gallant said. “We had a pretty good idea that he was going to be fine for the game. But we just wanted to make sure. I didn’t want to get caught with only five defensemen if he had to leave. He was fine. He battled hard and struggled hard and did all the right things. ”
Dryden Hunt was scratched for a second straight game, leaving Ryan Reaves and Kevin Rooney as the lone members of the Rangers’ true fourth line. Gallant rotated through his left wingers for a good portion of the contest.
The Penguins were without Rickard Rakell and Brian Dumoulin.
Fox extended his point streak to five games with a goal in the second period. The goal tied Fox with Ryan McDonagh (five games in 2014) for the most recent longest streak by a Rangers defenseman.
Chris Kreider has 54 goals between the regular season playoffs. The only Rangers to have more in a single season were Adam Graves (62 in 1993-94) and Vic Hadfield (57 in 1971-71).