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The Rangers have been among the more fortunate clubs in the NHL when it comes to losing players to the COVID-protocol list, with only Kaapo Kakko kept out of a game for that reason prior to Saturday’s match in Washington.
But Kakko, who missed the Feb. 1 contest against the Penguins after registering a false positive on a test, was back on the list and consequently unavailable for the 4-1 victory over the Capitals.
“This happened this morning, so we haven’t had a chance to talk yet,” coach David Quinn said following the contest. “Obviously you’re concerned anytime someone gets put on this list, so we’ll talk here shortly and see how he feels.
“From what I gather there haven’t been any symptoms yet, so I’ll know a lot more later.”
Of course, per league regulations, Quinn will not be permitted to disclose what he learns. It would be up to Kakko, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a young age, to divulge details if he wishes.
Filip Chytil has been on the COVID-19 list since the beginning of the week while remaining on injured reserve. Chtyil, who has missed 11 straight since suffering an unidentified upper body injury in Pittsburgh on Jan. 24, had been skating prior to going on the list. It is unknown how much, if at all, his return date might be affected by this. The Rangers originally projected that the 21-year-old center would miss four to six weeks.
The Blueshirts snuffed out all four Capitals power plays, including one on which Mika Zibanejad scored an empty-netter at 17:48 of the third period with a 6-on-4 situation. Rangers, who allowed only three shots in 8:00 of shorthanded work, have killed 31 of the last 32 man-advantages they have faced over the last nine games.
Overall, the club has killed 52 of 60 for an 86.7 rate, which placed it third in the league following the match.
Ryan Strome recorded both a goal and an assist. The goal was the 100th of his NHL career, while the assist was his 100th point as a Ranger. That made him the first player ever to hit the century mark in points with both the Blueshirts and the Islanders.
“I knew that and it was pretty interesting actually,” said Strome, who was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011, one spot before the Senators drafted Zibanejad. “I never would have thought when I was drafted almost 10 years ago that I’d have 100 points with both the Islanders and the Rangers given the hatred of that rivalry.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment, not that it’s the way I thought it would play out, but I’m happy to be a Ranger, my time here has been pretty good, and I got to 100 here a lot quicker than I did with the Islanders so that’s a little ticket under my belt I’ll be happy with.”
Strome, who went 45-81=126 in 258 games over four seasons with the Islanders before being traded to Edmonton for Jordan Eberle, has gone 41-60=101 in 149 games for the Blueshirts since being obtained from the Oilers in exchange for Ryan Spooner.
The Blueshirts won 32 of 56 at the dots, including Zibanejad’s 15-for-23. Strome won 6 of 11.
The Rangers have placed a limited number of tickets on general sale for their next three home games, on Feb. 26, Feb. 28 and Mar. 2, for between $50 and $345. Attendance for these games is limited to almost 2,000, with all patrons required to adhere to COVID-19 protocols that include proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the match.