New York Rangers forward Ryan Strome is expected to be in the team’s lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Gerard Gallant told reporters on Monday down in Florida.
The 28-year-old center left Game 3 in Tampa early in the second period after taking an assuming hit to the back while skating in the neutral zone.
Strome immediately clutched his quad area and went to the bench before exiting for the locker room. He attempted to test it out later on in the period, but only lasted one shift.
The Rangers relayed the message that he would miss the remainder of the game — a 3-2 Lightning victory — in the third period.
His absence was notable, as some of the team’s attacking bite was taken out after accruing a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. While New York sat back at times, inviting Tampa pressure, not having the team’s second-line center and one of the quarterbacks of the top power-play unit in Strome certainly did not help.
“It’s a big loss when Stromer’s not playing,” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. “The way he’s been playing and the way that line has been playing. Can’t do much more than try to fill that spot and next man up. Big loss, but we have to keep working.”
Playing between Artemi Panarin and most recently Andrew Copp, Strome posted a career-high 21 goals during the regular season and 54 points — the second-most he’s ever had.
Over 17 playoff games this season, he has two goals and seven assists.
“Stromer’s a big piece,” Copp said. “Playing in the middle on the power play, taking right-handed draws… it’s a huge loss [when he’s not available]. Everyone has to step up around.”