On the three-year anniversary of Igor Shesterkin’s NHL debut, the Rangers are still struggling with their inability to give their star goalie enough support.
Shesterkin was spectacular in the 4-3, overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center, where he stopped 39 of the 43 shots he faced — including three of the four he saw in the extra period — as the Rangers blew a two-goal lead in the third period before Damon Severson won it for the home team in the extra period.
“It was back and forth a lot, and a lot of good scoring chances, obviously, Shesty was our best player again,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “He was outstanding. Gave us a chance to win a hockey game. He was great in there.”
Facing the Devils for the third time this season, Shesterkin was sharp for a majority of the game. The Rangers’ recently named All-Star kept his rebounds to a minimum and stood tall against the Devils’ myriad high-skilled forwards, who peppered him with shots for 60 minutes.
Shesterkin played a key role in the Rangers’ ability to fend off the Devils’ 5-on-3 power-play opportunity in the first period, from which they emerged with a 1-0 lead thanks in part to his 19 saves. It didn’t matter whose stick the shot was coming from, Shesterkin made each save look more effortless than the next.
There was the pad save on Michael McLeod’s turnaround shot at 16:43 of the first period, in addition to the glove save he made on Jesper Bratt’s shot from the right faceoff circle during the Devils’ stretch with the man advantage toward the end of the opening frame. Plus, he denied Tomas Tatar’s wide-open one-timer from the slot early in the second.
Shesterkin helped maintain the Rangers’ comfortable lead until the Devils rode a momentum swing in the third period.
Both goals Shesterkin gave up in the final 20 minutes were difficult to fend off. Bratt’s slap shot from the left faceoff circle whizzed right under the crossbar before Shesterkin could make a single move. And when a shot from below the blue line deflected right to the stick of Jack Hughes at the other side of the zone, Shesterkin couldn’t get over in time to get in front of the Devils star’s quick shot.
Maybe Shesterkin could’ve had better positioning on Severson’s overtime winner off the rush, but after a long shift, Alexis Lafreniere collided with Yegor Sharangovich to spring the Devils for a two-on-one rush. Severson sniped the puck stick side on Shesterkin to secure the win.
The Rangers are off on Sunday before they return to practice at MSG Training Center on Monday.
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