ANAHEIM, Calif. — Maybe it wasn’t a direct demotion, but Chris Kreider got a season-low 11:04 of ice time and finished the game playing on the fourth line during the Rangers’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Ducks on Saturday afternoon.
As the Blueshirts wrapped up their four-game Western road trip having gone 2-1-1, Kreider went down to play with Brett Howden and Brendan Smith, getting two shifts over the final 10:54 of regulation. The game had started with Kreider next to Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, but Buchnevich went down to play with Greg McKegg and Filip Chytil, while Brendan Lemieux and Jesper Fast joined Zibanejad.
“I didn’t love the way certain guys were playing, and wanted to get a different mix,” coach David Quinn said. “We look a little deeper with those four lines. And it being the fourth game in a four-game road trip, the third period, I really wanted to play four lines. So that was part of the decision-making process, and I thought all those lines were effective.”
Quinn added there was nothing physically wrong with Kreider, who has one goal in his past 10 games and seven through the first 32 games.
The only line that stayed together was Artemi Panarin-Ryan Strome-Kaapo Kakko.
Defenseman Marc Staal was able to play despite being a game-time decision, having blocked a shot with his surgically repaired right ankle during the 6-3 win Thursday at San Jose. Staal took a slashing penalty in the second period and got 17:38 of ice time paired with Tony DeAngelo.
Lemieux didn’t seem worse for the wear after he missed Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. He played 14:28, and was moved onto the second power-play unit in the third period in place of Chytil.
The Rangers’ penalty kill had not given up a goal in the previous five games, going 13-for-13 during that stretch. But they gave up a goal on the Ducks’ first power plays of the game — a Jakob Silfverberg tip at 8:53 of the first period then another to Hampus Lindholm with 1:56 remaining in regulation to tie the game.
The Rangers’ power play had scored at least once in each of the first three games of this trip, having gone 4-for-10, but went 0-for-2 against the Ducks.
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