Rangers’ Artemi Panarin limited after ‘lower-body injury’

Rangers star winger Artemi Panarin sustained a lower-body injury during the second period of Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins.

The team’s top scorer was seen hunched over on the bench toward the end of the middle frame and gingerly skating during TV timeouts to try and workout whatever was bothering him. After sitting for a majority of the third, Panarin returned to the ice for the Rangers’ power play at 13:02 after David Krejci was called for tripping Brendan Lemieux.

“He’s got a little bit of a lower-body injury and we’ll assess him after,” head coach David Quinn said following the loss. “We thought that we could get him out there on the power play, it was something we just decided to try, if it wasn’t going to work we were going to pull him off early.”

Panarin finished the night with two shots on goal in 15:34 of ice time. Since signing a seven-year, $81.5 million deal with the Rangers as a free agent in July 2019, the 29-year-old Russian has only missed one game.

Last season, he sat out of a 4-2 loss to the Islanders on Jan. 21, 2020, and subsequently missed the NHL’s All-Star Game in St. Louis with an upper-body injury.

Panarin currently leads the Rangers with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) through the first 12 games of the season.

Mika Zibanejad said he “felt like my own self” after breaking through with a quality performance in Wednesday’s loss after a slow start to the season.

“Obviously tough loss,” the Swedish center said. “But I felt a lot better and obviously the chances were there but couldn’t really capitalize on [Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask]. Just have to keep going and keep getting a little better every game.”

With the Rangers on the power play after Craig Smith was called for slashing Ryan Strome at 8:05 of the second period, Zibanejad nearly made it a two-goal game on a wide-open net before it was gloved by Rask.

Zibanejad was robbed again by Rask on a shorthanded breakaway later in the second.

“Tonight for sure was the guy that we saw last year in a lot of ways,” Quinn said. “He did a great job defensively, I thought he was on the puck, I thought there were great scoring chances. He wanted, he had a swagger to him tonight and by far the best game he had all year. I think he feels pretty good right now.”

Brendan Lemieux tied a single-game career-high with two assists and was credited with three hits in the loss. It was his second multi-assist game and the seventh multi-point game in his NHL career.

The Rangers’ game Sunday against the Flyers at the Garden has been postponed, the NHL announced Wednesday night, citing COVID-19 protocols. The postponement is the fourth straight for the Flyers, who aren’t scheduled to play again until Feb. 18, also against the Rangers. The league postponed Philadelphia’s games out of “an abundance of caution while the league continues to analyze test results in the coming days.”

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