GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Filip Chytil replaced Blake Wheeler for the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Wheeler was a healthy scratch for the 3-2 loss after taking Chytil's spot in the lineup for Game 4 on Tuesday, a 3-2 Florida win in overtime. Florida leads the best-of-7 series 3-2.

Chytil had one shot on goal in 10:34 of ice time Thursday. He was considered a healthy scratch in Game 4, with the Rangers holding the forward out as part of trying to manage him as he works his way back into being a regular in the lineup.

Chytil missed more than six months with an upper-body injury he sustained Nov. 2. He returned for Game 3 of the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 9, but did not play Games 4, 5 and 6 because of first an illness and then overall body soreness.

Chytil played the first three games of the conference final, including 20:09 in Game 2 and 14:10 in Game 3, before being scratched for Game 4. All three games went into overtime. He has no points in the five games he’s played this postseason.

"It was a long break for me since I played before and the last three games were very intense, very hard," Chytil said after the morning skate Thursday. "Between the second and third game we didn't have much rest. Coach or we together communicated and decided it's going to be better for the last game to put somebody else there."

Chytil said he and the coaching staff have had regular communication about how he feels.

"I didn't decide it, it's not my decision, but of course I didn't play for so long so I wouldn't have helped the team (in Game 4)," Chytil said. "If I would have jumped in there [I] wouldn't be ready at all or without energy. Every game matters in the (Stanley Cup Playoffs). We've got to win every game, so that was the decision."

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette described the conversations with Chytil as being "honest."

"It's got to do with the schedule, it's got to do with how he's feeling, it's got to do with how he's playing," Laviolette said. "It's just different. He had a real extended amount of time off and it was an uphill journey to get back to this point where he's now available to our team for games, so we want to make sure we manage it properly."

Chytil said he felt "ready to go" Thursday.

"It's different from jumping in after a couple of weeks in the regular season and get back and play," Chytil said. "This was such a long break, which was actually longer than I expected, and that I can play right now it's amazing, but we're playing almost every other day and I'm trying to give my best every night. If there is something that would not help the team I'm not going to play. We have a lot of good players on this team who can play."

Chytil was back on the top line as the right wing with center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider. He played on that line in Games 2 and 3 against the Panthers after being on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko in Game 1.

The Rangers have also used Jack Roslovic and Kakko at right wing on the top line, hoping someone helps unlock Zibanejad and Kreider, who each entered Thursday with no points in the series. Zibanejad had two assists in Game 5, and Kreider had a goal and an assist.

"These two guys are unbelievable players and I know them for so long," Chytil said. "It's been a pleasure for me to play with them. I'm trying to of course bring some energy there when I'm out there. I'm talking to them a lot during the games and they're great so they help me as well." 

The Rangers also went back to the defense pairs they used for the first nine games of the postseason, with Braden Schneider playing with K'Andre Miller, and Jacob Trouba with Erik Gustafsson. They used that setup, with Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox together too, for the first nine games of the playoffs before switching in Game 6 of the second round to having Trouba with Miller and Schneider with Gustafsson.