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Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev looked to be in grave pain when he was carried off the ice late in the first period of the Rangers’ 5-3 win over the Devils on Sunday afternoon, but he was back in net to start the middle frame.
The 25-year-old said after the game that his knee had locked, which head coach David Quinn mentioned has happened before.
“I felt pain on the side of the kneecap and couldn’t really bend the knee or put any pressure on it,” Georgiev said after the win. “I assumed I would be OK, we just needed to put it back into place. It was a little bit not in good shape. That’s a great job by our doctor to fix it pretty quick and I knew I would be good to play the second period.”
Quinn said the coaching staff opted to go with Georgiev in goal Sunday because of his stellar record when playing on four-plus days of rest (18-3-5, .930 save percentage entering the game). Georgiev hadn’t played since April 9, when he helped the Rangers to a 4-1 win over the Islanders.
It’s also safe to assume the staff wanted to rest Igor Shesterkin for the upcoming matchups with the Isles and Flyers. Quinn added that with 11 games left in the regular season, the Rangers are going to need two goalies to rely on with “a lot of hockey played in a short period of time.”
“As far as his injury, it was something that’s happened in the past,” Quinn said. “Toward the end of the period, it happened. By the time we got in the locker room, he said, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to get back in.’ There wasn’t a lot of discussion about it with the training staff. They were fine with it too.”
Defenseman Libor Hajek was scratched for the first time on Sunday against the Devils after appearing in 20 straight games, with Anthony Bitetto replacing him on the third defensive pairing next to Brendan Smith.
Bitetto, who was nursing a lower-body injury for some time, played in his first game since Feb. 24. Additionally, the 30-year-old and his wife, Casie, welcomed their first baby girl a little over a week ago.
“Well I just think Libor’s game has dropped just a little bit and Libor puts a lot of pressure on himself and sometimes the best thing to do is maybe take a step back,” Quinn said. “I like what I’ve seen out of Bitetto, even though we don’t practice a lot. We think he gives a little bit of a calming influence back there and makes good decisions with the puck.”
With the victory, the Rangers extended their winning-streak to a season-high four games.
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