So it was three men out and another up and in for the Rangers in Monday’s 5-4 Garden overtime defeat to the Flyers.
Adam Fox, Pavel Buchnevich and Phil Di Giuseppe were all placed on the COVID-19 protocol list while Tarmo Reunanen was summoned from the AHL Wolf Pack and inserted into the lineup for what became the 23-year-old Finnish defenseman’s NHL debut.
Di Giuseppe had first been placed on the list Sunday, so it can be safely inferred that he has contracted the virus. The same is not necessarily true for Fox and Buchnevich, who might be on the list following an inconclusive test, a false positive, or for contact tracing.
This represented the first game Fox had missed in his career after playing in 96 straight since breaking into the NHL last season.
The Rangers, who were off Sunday, canceled their scheduled morning skate after consultation with the NHL, David Quinn said. Obviously, the league believed it was safe to play the game, which is an indication that Fox and Buchnevich are not infectious.
Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier, both of whom were scratched from Saturday’s 4-0 victory in Boston, were reinserted into the lineup to fill the vacated spots up front left by Buchnevich and Di Giuseppe.
Reunanen took the blue-line spot opened by Fox’s absence and was paired primarily with Brendan Smith. The Finn collected an assist by setting up Artemi Panarin’s second period one-timer from the left circle with a neat cross-ice pass off the rush before finishing with 8:57 of ice time that included 1:22 on three shifts in the third period.
“Reunanen has done a good job in Hartford, and he’s one of those guys we thought highly of in training camp,” Quinn said of the defenseman who was the 98th-overall draft selection in 2016 and had recorded five points (2-3) in eight games for the Wolf Pack in his first North American pro experience. “He plays fast, moves the puck well and obviously is excited for his first NHL opportunity. We’re excited to have him here.”
The Blueshirts had lost only eight man-games to COVID-related issues, with Kaapo Kakko missing seven contests and K’Andre Miller one. The team only played one game with both players out of action, that the 4-3 defeat in Philadelphia on Feb. 24.
The Flyers, on the other hand, have lost 23 man-games to the virus, playing without six regulars in a pair of games that included the Feb. 18, 3-2 home shootout defeat to the Rangers. The Red Wings have lost 39 man-games to COVID-19 and have played six games without five regulars.
“Everybody faces adversity and we’re no different,” said Quinn. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for us.”
Keith Kinkaid’s glass slippers went missing, as the goaltender had a rather sloppy outing in allowing five goals on 30 shots after extending his shutout streak to 117:16. There were a couple of questionable goals before he acted as a co-conspirator on an attempted headman to Panarin in overtime that inadvertently triggered the winner.
Igor Shesterkin missed his fifth straight recovering from the groin strain he suffered at Prudential Center on March 6.
“This is a situation that really is day-to-day, as I’ve said,” Quinn said of Shesterkin’s status. “Sometimes there’s progress, sometimes there’s not, so we really are day to day with him. We’re not sure when he’s going to be able to come back.”
Vitali Kravtsov has arrived in New York and has begun the quarantine/protocol process that will likely last for 10-14 days before he can begin skating with the club. So it will take a bit of time for the 21-year-old winger to be in position to make his NHL debut. … Jack Johnson cleared waivers on Monday and is eligible to be sent to the taxi squad. Quinn said the defenseman was “unavailable” to play in this one. … Rangers played pregame videos memorializing the lives of Mark Pavelich and Walter Gretzky, who each passed on March 4. … The Wolf Pack have signed 24-year-old former Harvard and Providence College netminder Michael Lackey to a Professional Try Out. Lackey played with both Fox and Colin Blackwell at Harvard.