Rangers’ Artemi Panarin enters the COVID-19 protocol, forcing relocation of lines

Before taking the ice to warm-up on Sunday, Rangers announced that leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin had signed the COVID protocol along with assistant coach Mike Kelly.

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said he found out a few hours before the match that Panarin and defender Patrik Nemeth (non-COVID issue) would be unavailable.

“Things happened really fast and we were in play at the time,” Gallant said after Rangers’ 4-0 win over Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.

Panarin, who has 10 goals and 26 assists in 31 games, joined defenders Ryan Lindgren and Jarred Tinordi and the lethal striker Kevin Rooney on the COVID list.

To take Panarin’s place on the list, the team promoted striker Morgan Barron from the taxi team.

With Panarin out, Gallant reconfigured his forward lines and moved Alexis Lafreniere up to the left wing on Ryan Strome’s line. Barclay Goodrow, who finished the game on that line on Friday, returned to the spot on Sunday. Dryden Hunt, who had played with Panarin and Strome, moved into Lafreniere’s place on the third line with Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier. Tim Gettinger played on the fourth line, with Greg McKegg shifting to center and Ryan Reaves on the right wing.

In defense, Zac Jones took Nemeth’s place and played on the third defensive pair with second rookie Nils Lundkvist. Libor Hajek moved up to play on the second pairing with Adam Fox.

Gallant praised the couple Jones and Lundkvist, who played 13:32 and 14:21 respectively. Each ended with a plus-1 rating.

Gallant did not seem sure that Nemeth will be available on Monday when the Rangers meet the Edmonton Oilers in the Garden.

“There’s a possibility, but … I honestly can not say that right now,” he said. “It’s a personal issue and we’ll see.”

Blue banknotes

The victory marked the first time since January 1, 2018, when they beat the Buffalo Sabers in the Winter Classic, that the Rangers won their first game of the calendar year. . . Rangers won 30 of 49 faceoffs (61%). Chytil won all five of his draws.

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