With his usual flair and intensity, goalie Igor Shesterkin made seven saves to fend off a five-minute Flyers power play early in the second period to preserve the Rangers’ lead on the way to their 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Dryden Hunt was given a questionable five minute major, and an infraction for the game against Justin Braun. Shesterkin and Rangers’ penalty kill got to work. That’s when Shesterkin seemingly went into one of his brick-wall modes.
Shesterkin, who earned his 16th start of the season and 17th appearance through the Rangers’ 21 games, didn’t feel like seven saves in five minutes was a lot — but his teammates were certainly impressed.
“You don’t want to give up seven shots,” penalty-killer Jacob Trouba said. “But he was there when we needed him, like he always is.”
Added head coach Gerard Gallant: “A good penalty kill is a great goalie, and that’s what he did. At the right time of the game, he stood up and made some unreal saves.”
The 25-year old netminder, tossed his stick into the air at one point to redirect a shot towards the crossbar. Shesterkin then used Trouba’s stick to make three more saves before the Rangers were able to break out of their zone. It’s far from the first time Shesterkin has lost his stick mid-play and had to make due.
“I don’t really know, I was just trying to hit the puck and luckily it hit the crossbar,” Shesterkin said through a translator. “Obviously, I asked for it back because I needed to finish playing and I would need it for any more dangerous moments later on.”
Once the five-minute shorthanded stretch expired, the Garden crowd rose to its feet as an ‘I-GOR!’ chant reverberated throughout the arena.
“It’s honestly hard to describe,” Shesterkin said of hearing fans shout his name. “It adds a lot of emotion, a lot of strength, it motivates me definitely. The most important thing is to try to not cry right then and there.”
The Rangers’ second power-play unit scored its first goal of the season early in the first period, when Trouba’s blast from the top of the zone found twine to open the scoring.
“It’s great for them, great confidence for them,” Gallant said. “They don’t get a lot of minutes and, you know, they stepped up and got a big goal for us.”
The NHL announced Wednesday that it is in the process of rescheduling the Rangers’ Nov. 28 matchup with the Islanders, who have been cleared to resume play after eight players landed in COVID-19 protocol.