A bit of a scare went through Rangerstown when it was clear Artemi Panarin had left the bench late in the second period of the preseason opener Wednesday night at the Garden, then did not return to the game due to what the team called a “mild groin strain.”
But after the Rangers lost to the Devils, 4-3, with Panarin scoring a power-play goal before exiting, coach David Quinn quelled some concern.
“Just a mild groin strain, more precautionary than anything,” Quinn said. “Should be fine.”
Panarin didn’t play the final 6:16 of the second period after he managed three shots on net in five attempts over 12:59, skating on a top line with Kaapo Kakko and Mika Zibanejad. The 27-year-old Russian signed a seven-year, $81.5 million deal to join the Rangers this offseason, and has already impressed with his skill.
“It’s a big thing for me to play with him,” Kakko said. “He’s [such] a skillful player.”
It might have been a dream come true for native Long Islander and childhood Rangers fan Adam Fox to pull on the sweater and skate at the Garden. But his dad, Bruce, a former season-ticket holder, was not in attendance.
Adam said his dad sent him a text after the game, and Bruce seems to be waiting for the regular-season opener on Oct. 4 — assuming his son is on the team.
“He’s a tough nut to crack,” Adam said.
The No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will have to wait for another day — and likely the regular season — as the Devils sat top-overall pick Jack Hughes while the Rangers played second-overall Kakko. It’s unclear if Kakko would play in the second (and final) preseason meeting between the two clubs on Friday night in Newark.
The first regular-season game between the two is Oct. 17 at Prudential Center.
Hughes already made his preseason debut, scoring twice — including the game-winner — in a 4-3 win over the Bruins on Tuesday night in Newark.
Alexandar Georgiev started in goal for the Rangers and allowed three goals on 11 shots over 30:18 of ice time. He gave up a goal on the first shot of the game, a deft tip from Nico Hischier just 37 seconds in.
Georgiev was replaced by Igor Shesterkin, who allowed one goal on 13 shots over 27:28.