Rangers finally salvaged the second half of their best defensive pair.
Ryan Lindgren returned for their 5-3 win over the Penguins on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, after the 24-year-old defenseman 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 all the 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 I felt like he was on the ice all night. He’s just one of those guys who makes others around them better.
As a result, Gallant rolled with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Patrik Nemeth was the seventh defenseman and recorded a 16-second shift late in the third period. The veteran defender was obviously there just in case Lindgren went down again.
This is the third time this season that Gallant has opted for such an arrangement. All three occasions ended in victories.
Lindgren also had three shots on goal, two blocked shots, one hit and one takeout in the win.
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“[Lindgren] keep going and fight,” Gallant said. “We had a pretty good idea that he would be fine for the game. But we just wanted to make sure. I didn’t want to get caught with just five defenders if he had to leave. He was fine. beat hard and competed hard and did all the right things.
Dryden Hunt was knocked out for a second game in a row, leaving Ryan Reaves and Kevin Rooney as the only members of Rangers’ true fourth line. Gallant rotated his left wingers for much of the game.
The Penguins were without Rickard Rakell and Brian Dumoulin.
Fox extended his point streak to five games with a second-period goal. The goal tied Fox and Ryan McDonagh (five games in 2014) for the longest consecutive 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).
New York Post