After suffering a knee injury as the result of a preseason slew foot by Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, Ryan Reaves issued a veiled threat to the Devils’ defenseman by saying, “We play them a lot.”
Yet Sunday, when Sammy Blais suffered a season-ending torn right ACL after Subban had clipped the winger’s skate in a corner puck battle at 3:53 of the third period, there was no response and no retribution from Reaves in the match the Rangers ultimately won 4-3 in a shootout.
Tuesday, after Reaves engaged in his first fight as a Ranger in pummeling Micheal Pezzetta to the ice after accepting the Montreal winger’s challenge, No. 75 explained why he had not challenged Subban on Sunday.
“It’s a close game, Subban’s not going to fight me,” Reaves said after the 3-2 victory over Montreal. “What’s going to happen, I’m going to go cross-check him, take a penalty, and they’re on the power play?
“I think I’d rather try and catch him with his head down with a hit or something like that. I know who’s going to fight me and who I’m going to have a chance to go after and he definitely isn’t one of them.”
Reaves fought in this one, energizing both the crowd and his wide-eyed teammates — “I haven’t seen something like that … big fight,” said Kaapo Kakko — after accepting a challenge from the Montreal winger that shocked Reaves.
“I don’t know if I ran him or I ran someone else, I couldn’t tell who I hit,” Reaves said. “He came up behind and was yelling at me. I don’t know if you’ve seen the replay, but there was a lot of confusion on my face. I didn’t know whether he was serious or not.
“I assume [he could fight.] Well, I assumed he could fight.”
Reaves received a rousing ovation on his way to the box, engaging in showmanship at 3:22 of the second period.
“The first ones are always fun for your new team in your own building,” said Reaves, who has 74 career regular-season bouts according to Hockeyfights.com. “It’s always good to go. Sometimes you want to knock the rust off. There’s a lot of rust in these hands.”
Filip Chytil got 13:09 of ice between Julien Gauthier and Alexis Lafreniere in his first game back after being sidelined for three games with an upper-body injury he sustained in Calgary on Nov. 6. Chtyil created one glorious opportunity for himself, driving across the crease from the right side on a power move before missing the wide empty side.
Igor Shesterkin recorded 31 saves on 33 shots (.939 save percentage), marking the ninth time in 12 starts he’s been .912 or over.