Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Igor Shesterkin leads Rangers to shootout win over Bruins after concussion scare

Igor Shesterkin slammed his stick into the boards as he made his way to the locker room with seconds left…

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at February 16, 2022 Tags: , , ,

Igor Shesterkin slammed his stick into the boards as he made his way to the locker room with seconds left in overtime.

The concussion spotter had just pulled the Rangers netminder out of the game after he got knocked in the head on a play in front of his net, bringing in a cold Alexandar Georgiev to finish out the final seconds of the extra period. But as the teams lined up for the shootout, Shesterkin emerged from the tunnel and was greeted with a resounding round of applause.

Shesterkin then stopped seven of the nine skaters he saw in the shootout — as Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and K’Andre Miller scored for the Rangers — to lift the team to a 2-1 victory over the Bruins on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“Honestly, I did lose control when I got sent off,” Shesterkin said through a translator after recording 31 saves in the win, which improved the Rangers to 31-13-4. “You saw me hitting the boards with my stick. That won’t happen again, I promise.

“But when I came out, the stands just gave me so much energy that I couldn’t do anything else but save the game.”

And he did. Shesterkin came up with a big stop on Bruins winger David Pastrnak just over a minute into overtime, which the Rangers were able to force after Filip Chytil’s goal at 6:45 of the third period. Boston continued to swarm, and Craig Smith knocked into Shesterkin before pushing the puck over the goal line with his hand, which was immediately waved off by referees.

Alexis Lafreniere took exception to Smith’s actions and began to pummel the Boston forward, earning himself a seat in the penalty box. Shortly after, Shesterkin was forced to go to the locker room, where he said medical staff gave him a questionnaire that he filled out as quickly as he could to make it back in time.

“I don’t really understand the whole point of that protocol,” said Shesterkin, who was replaced by Georgiev for just 41 seconds. “There’s 40 seconds left in the overtime. Just let me finish the play and then you can do whatever protocol you feel is necessary.”

The tone of the night was set by the Rangers’ inability to record a single shot on goal until over 12 minutes into the game. It was obvious from puck drop that they hadn’t even sniffed a game in two weeks, and the Bruins were already on their fourth contest since All-Star weekend. But the Rangers’ trend of the season still applied: Never count them out.

Chytil put back his own rebound at 6:45 of the third to even the score at 1-1.

Considering how much the Rangers have relied on generating offense from their power play this season, having to play two of the three periods entirely at even strength didn’t make things any easier. Even when they earned the man-advantage at 16:32 of the third period, the Rangers only had one shot on goal.

Still, for all that has made the Rangers successful this season — the power play, understanding individual roles, etc. — Shesterkin has been a through line of it all. Nothing was going to stop him from getting back into this game, and in turn, getting those two points.

“You could hear it in the crowd,” Miller said of what Shesterkin’s return did for the team in that moment. “Don’t really have to say anything, it just kind of speaks for itself. The life of our team, he’s been lights out every game. I really haven’t seen anything like it. He’s dialed every game, every day he comes into the rink prepared for practices and really puts himself in the best positions to give our team success. It makes it pretty easy for us.”