Vitali Kravtsov’s injury in Rangers’ preseason loss not seen as ‘long-term’ issue

Vitali Kravtsov suffered a lower-body injury during the first period of the Rangers’ 7-1 stinker of a loss to the Devils in a preseason game Friday night at Prudential Center, but it is not believed to be serious.

It is unclear when the injury occurred, but Kravtsov finished out the opening period, then was sidelined for the remainder of the game. The 21-year-old logged just 5:14 of ice time.

“It bothered him enough that he couldn’t play,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. “I don’t think it’s anything long-term.”

Kravtsov, who skated in 20 games for the Rangers last season, will be evaluated further on Saturday.

The Russian winger started the night on the right of the top line, with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. It was an opportunity for Kravtsov to further establish himself as a top-six candidate. After Kravtsov was ruled out, Gallant rotated the remaining left wingers into that first-line spot.

Igor Shesterkin allowed four goals on 20 shots in 31:21. Devils defenseman P.K. Subban’s long shot pinballed off two Rangers skaters and past Shesterkin to open the scoring at 4:29 of the first period.

Vitali Kravtsov
Vitali Kravtsov
NHL via Getty Images

The Rangers were 1-for-5 on the power play, with Zibanejad recording their lone goal off a one-timer from the top of the left circle at 16:41 of the first period. The Blueshirts were unable to capitalize on an extended power play in the middle frame, which included a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:27.

“It’s difficult when you have different units, it’s not the regular units that you play with during the season,” Zibanejad said. “But definitely some things that no matter who plays on the power play, they can kind of take away from this game and the power plays that we had, just moving the puck a little bit more. Helping each other out. That’s a big part of it.”

Gallant plans to continue experimenting with his lines Saturday before he deploys a lineup that will resemble what fans should expect for opening night in Washington on Oct. 13.

“We’re still experimenting with lineups, guys are playing in different positions,” he said Friday morning. “A little bit of experimenting is still going on. I think … [Saturday] will be the same type of thing and then the last two games will be a lot closer to what our team will look like, for sure.”

Defenseman Anthony Bitetto, who cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hartford on Friday, was the only player to compete in the first two preseason games, but Gallant said there could be others who play in back-to-back contests.

“Not a whole lot, but there will be some for sure,” he said.

The Rangers also assigned Anthony Greco, Jonny Brodzinski, Ty Ronning, Tim Gettinger and Keith Kinkaid to the Wolf Pack on Friday, bringing the training camp roster to 34 players — 30 skaters and four goaltenders.

After Saturday’s preseason game against the Bruins, the team is scheduled to practice for two days in Rhode Island.