Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin finally returns in Vezina form

The Igor Shesterkin, believed to be the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, re-emerged on Wednesday night with the season at stake.

Once again, he was the keeper that guided Rangers to a surprise second place in the Metropolitan Division and the deciding factor that some believed could lead them to a great post-season run.

“He made some real key saves,” coach Gerard Gallant said after Rangers added at least two more days to their season with a 5-3 Game 5 win at the Garden over the Penguins. “He fights, he plays the puck really well.”

Early on, Shesterkin, 26, kept Rangers at bay and made it big as they were clearly outplayed. And when Rangers took an early lead in the third period, he closed the door. He finished with 29 saves and atoned for being pulled from two shaky performances in Pittsburgh, where he allowed a total of 10 goals on 45 shots as Rangers lost Games 3 and 4.

Igor Shesterkin defends the net in Rangers' win over Penguins.
Igor Shesterkin defends the net in Rangers’ win over Penguins.
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

History has not repeated itself in the garden. Shesterkin played like a star, limited rebounds and made big saves throughout the evening. The “Igor, Igor, Igor” chants began before the opening faceoff and continued throughout most of the night. He played a lot more like he did when Rangers split the first two games as he stopped 118 of 124 shots for a .952 percentage. He made 15 saves in the final period on Wednesday and knocked out the Penguins 21:54 in the final.

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The night began ominously. After just 24 seconds, the Penguins had a 5-on-3 power play. But the penalty and Shesterkin were up to the challenge, killing them and setting the tone.

“It was honestly a big part of the game,” Gallant said.

So did his goalkeeper, who lifted himself off the mat after being humiliated in the street. With that, he gave himself a chance to make amends in front of rowdy Penguins fans at the PPG Paints Arena on Friday night. Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin finally returns in Vezina form


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