Before Wednesday night, the Rangers had lost only one player on the COVID protocol list, when Kaapo Kakko missed the Feb. 1 game against the Penguins with what turned out to be a false positive test.
Kakko returned to the list Saturday, when he was out of the Blueshirts contest in Washington and remained on it for Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia. However, that was not all, as the Blueshirts also placed K’Andre Miller on the list in the hours leading up to the 4-3 loss to the Flyers.
It’s unclear if Miller, who was replaced in the lineup by Jack Johnson, tested positive. It is also unknown if the Rangers could be vulnerable to an outbreak from these situations, which occurred five days apart.
Johnson, a scratch from Saturday’s win over the Capitals, had played in the Rangers’ 3-2 win in shootouts in Philadelphia last Thursday after missing the previous eight games with a groin injury. He had participated in only one practice before rejoining the lineup.
Mika Zibanejad played perhaps his most dynamic game of the year, racking up a pair of assists in 20:20 ice time, but was denied twice on short breaks, the second with 3:40 left and the Blueshirts down 4-3. . Zibanejad was also denied earlier, with 5:45 remaining in the first period, when the puck rolled on him.
Both times, it was the other way around. Both times, Brian Elliott was up to the task. He was asked if he thought he could have scored if he had a normal season, not this one in which he has two goals, with one deposited in an empty net.
“I don’t know. I made the move I usually do, he read it, he didn’t go in,” Zibanejad said. “So I don’t know. It’s a difficult question to answer. It just leads to more speculation. I’m just trying to keep it simple. possible and not think too much about those possibilities. “
The pair of assists doubled the center’s season total to four.
The Blueshirts delivered 39 shots on goal, the most they have allowed this season.
The Rangers, 2 of 5 in the power play, have now scored in three straight games with the man advantage (4 of 15) after going 0 of 14 in the previous five games.
In Miller’s absence, Kakko, Jacob Trouba (thumb) and Artemi Panarin (leave of absence), Brendan Smith and Anthony Bitetto were on points in the second unit power play. The Blueshirts have scored 10 power play goals, with the first unit in nine of them.
The Rangers won just 20 of 55 games (36 percent), and Zibanejad won just two of his 14 draws.