Igor Shesterkin’s resilience is fueling the comeback of the Rangers series

Igor Shesterkin played like the heart of the Rangers — and the heart of the NHL — through three straight comeback wins to help the Rangers advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Shesterkin, the first-time Hart Trophy finalist for league MVP honors, delivered that tally again on Sunday night with 42 saves in Rangers’ 4-3 overtime win in Game 7 over the Penguins.

“We’re expecting it,” head coach Gerard Gallant said after Shesterkin’s outstanding game and Artemi Panarin’s overtime winner gave Rangers a second-round clash with the Hurricanes. “We expect him to be sharp and strong. That’s why he’s a contender for MVP and for the Vezina Trophy. … He deserves it.”

The 26-year-old Shesterkin recorded 255 saves in the seven games against the Pens, including 79 in a treble OT loss in the series opener. His total is the highest in a single series by a Rangers goaltender since at least 1955-56, when the NHL officially began tracking shots on goal.

Igor Shesterkin blocks a save during Rangers' Game 7 win.
Igor Shesterkin blocks a save during Rangers’ Game 7 win.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

And that’s because they were drawn after one period in Game 3 and after two periods in Game 4, with Rangers losing those road games by a total of 14-6 and falling 3-1 in the series.

But Shesterkin’s resilience mirrored that of the entire team, who have overcome deficits in each of their last three wins.

“He’s been doing that for us all year. He really gives us a chance to win every game,” said Mika Zibanejad, who has scored seven points in the last two games. “Obviously you don’t want to give [the opponent] too many chances, the grade-A [opportunities].

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Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin overcame his struggles in the early series.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

“But I think when they get chances we know what we have back there and we trust him. He’s such a reassuring presence back there and it just gives us the confidence to go for the next one.”

An example of this Sunday night came in the first half, when Shesterkin acrobatically made a series of rapid-fire saves just before the opening goal of the game – Zibanejad versus Kreider in a two-on-one onslaught.

“He’s Mr. Reliable back there,” said veteran defenseman Jacob Trouba of Shesterkin, who is also the NHL’s top goalie favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. “I think everyone knows, not just our team, everyone knows he’s going to show up in big games and play well and make saves that he probably shouldn’t be making. He was again a big part of that win.” Igor Shesterkin’s resilience is fueling the comeback of the Rangers series


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