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      New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko left game vs. Sabres early with lower-body injury

      Kakko landed on his leg awkwardly after colliding into the boards in the second period.

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      The New York Rangers have announced that winger Kaapo Kakko suffered a lower-body injury during Monday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

      As a result of the injury, Kakko, 22, did not return to the game for the third period. The injury occurred late in the second period when Kakko went into the boards with Erik Johnson and awkwardly fell on his leg. Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette’s post game comments made it sound like it was more than a day-to-day concern.

      Kakko had one takeaway and one blocked shot in 6:45 of ice time before leaving the game, with the Rangers going on to lose the game 5-1.

      Kakko has had a slow start to the season with just two goals and one assist for three points in 20 games, which has him on pace for just 12 points on the year. Despite his offensive struggles since entering the league, he has developed into one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL, with a 7.5 defensive goals above replacement that ranks 35th among forwards since 2021.

      Kakko was the second overall pick for the Rangers in the 2019 NHL Draft and has struggled to live up to his draft hype through the first five seasons of his NHL career. He’s currently in the final year of a two-year contract with a $2.1 million cap hit, and is set to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the 2024 offseason.

      The Rangers will hope that the loss of Kakko in addition to Filip Chytil’s injury doesn’t hinder their forward depth in the long term. They were first in the league entering Monday’s action, but the loss to the Sabres now gives them a 15-4-1 record. The loss also snapped a stretch where they had points in 14 of their last 15 games, a string of success they will hope to get back to when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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