Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich struggles in return from car accident

Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich struggles in return from car accident

PHILADELPHIA — Maybe Pavel Buchnevich wasn’t ready to come back after all.

The Rangers’ top-line winger returned to the lineup after having missed two straight games following the traumatic car accident he was in on Sunday night in Brooklyn. But he was hardly himself during a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Friday night.

Buchnevich, 24, did not suffer any significant physical damage in the car accident, which broke the rib of the teammate who was driving, goaltender Igor Shesterkin. But Buchnevich did not feel ready to play earlier in the week. He skated on Wednesday, then took part in an optional morning skate on Thursday in Montreal.

He was a game-time decision for this one, and went right into his spot on the right side next to Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Kreider then fractured his foot blocking a shot in the first period, and Buchnevich was hesitant all night, making a couple of ghastly turnovers and taking an offensive-zone high-sticking penalty early in the third period.

“It was a tough game for us in a lot of ways,” coach David Quinn said. “Buchie came back, he just wasn’t himself. Losing Kreids, obviously.”

Pavel Buchnevich
Pavel BuchnevichNHLI via Getty Images

Buchnevich finished with 16:59 of ice time, taking Kreider’s spot on the top power-play unit, while registering two shots on goal and actually collecting an assist on Brett Howden’s garbage-time tally with 26 seconds left in regulation.

Goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 35 saves in his third straight start in four days. The 24-year-old said the team was “running on empty.”

Quinn said he did not make a decision yet on who will play in nets for Sunday’s matinee at the Garden against the Flyers. Henrik Lundqvist has not started a game since Feb. 3.

With Buchnevich back, 20-year-old Filip Chytil returned to his natural position at center, starting between Phillip Di Giuseppe and Kaapo Kakko. In the two games Buchnevich missed, Chytil had been up on the top-line wing.

“We want him in the middle,” Quinn said. “This [was] just temporary.”

Greg McKegg was the healthy scratch up front, having played the past two games as the fourth-line center. Moving back to that spot between Brendan Lemieux and Julien Gauthier was Howden, who got his ninth goal of the season.

Gauthier got just two shifts in the second period and finished with 8:30 of ice time.

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