Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin beginning to find his groove again
BUFFALO — Gerard Gallant said it best after the Rangers’ 2-1 overtime win Saturday night at KeyBank Center, where goalie Igor Shesterkin stopped 32 of 33 shots.
“Late [third] A time like a 1-1 hockey game, it’s not acceptable for our group to give up those chances,” the head coach said. “A lot of guys out there should be grateful that Igor saved for them.”
Shesterkin had two steals for the Rangers.
It’s a sentence that hasn’t been written nearly as much this season as in 2021-22, or even earlier.
In the last two games, however, Shesterkin has been the difference for a Rangers team that is still out of sync as it added two star forwards before the trade deadline.
In fact, the Rangers haven’t been on their game since the All-Star break. Yet they still sit comfortably in third place in the Metropolitan Division, thanks to their ability to grind out wins even when they don’t deserve them.
Last season, Shesterkin was not often the reason. This season, not so much.
The last few games have indicated that Shesterkin is finding his groove once again.
This will be a must for the Rangers in the final stages of the regular season and in the playoffs.
Aside from mishandling the puck in the second period, Shesterkin made consecutive clutch saves at key points in the game.
Had a pair of stops toward the end of the middle frame, including a dunk on Sabers defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with his right pad.
Additionally, the 27-year-old netminder recorded the game save with seconds to go in regulation on a point blank shot by Dylan Cozens.
“That’s huge,” Jimmy Vesey said of Shesterkin’s play. “Sometimes, you’re holding your breath on the bench, but he stood tall tonight. He’s a Vezina winner, so he can reach that level. This is a good sign for our team.”
Shesterkin was not made available to the media after the game.
The Rangers got one of their two injured players back on Saturday night.
Tyler Motte returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury suffered in the Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the Senators on March 2.
In addition to Barkley moving back to the fourth line with Goodrow and Vesey, Motte was back in the Rangers’ penalty-killing rotation.
Despite being a full participant in practice Friday, Ryan Lindgren was still sidelined with an upper-body injury.
It was the sixth straight game the 25-year-old defenseman missed after a hit from the Capitals’ TJ Oshie late last month.
It is also the longest injury stint of Lindgren’s five-year NHL career.
Without Lindgren, Adam Fox continued to skate with Nico Mikkola, while the rest of the defensive pairing remained the same.
The Rangers reassigned Johnny Brodzinski to AHL Hartford.