Rangers fire Igor Shesterkin after disastrous first half

You’d assume Rangers manager Gerard Gallant wouldn’t be bold enough to start Alexandar Georgiev in Game 4.

Likewise, you’d assume Igor Shesterkin wouldn’t repeat Saturday night’s performance, which saw him give up four goals on 15 shots in the first period before the game’s narrative went up in smoke over the next 40 minutes.

And at least on the first count, it looks like you’d be right, as the Rangers manager did nothing to spark controversy after Rangers’ 7-4 Game 3 defeat saw Shesterkin fired in the second half .

“It’s 4-1, sometimes you want to change the pace a bit and Igor was outstanding,” Gallant said. “Really you’re looking at him right now and he’s played 10 periods in the last 4 ¹/₂, five days, whatever it is. So I thought it was a good time to raise him. and luckily for us we fought back in the second and equalized.

Georgiev didn’t do anything particularly memorable, saving 19 of 20 shots in relief. His best moment came early in the third, when he stopped Sidney Crosby on the doorstep twice. Later he was beaten by Danton Heinen short side for the winner at 11:02. For Gallant and the Rangers, however, that equation is about Shesterkin.

Rangers goalkeeper Alexandar Georgiev (40) blocks a shot in the second half.
Corey Sipkin/New York Post

Because with Penguins fans chanting his name for the first 20 minutes, Shesterkin became a mere mortal.

Whether it was the 124 shots Shesterkin faced in the first two games, a rare outlier performance or some other reason, he was undeniably not himself on Saturday. Even without the four goals Pittsburgh scored against him, it would have been evident from the fact that Shesterkin nearly failed to cover a harmless shot from Jeff Carter late in the first period.

On the Penguins’ second goal of the night, Shesterkin practically threw the puck into himself. In the third he looked out of position after Evan Rodrigues’ initial shot hit the end boards, with Rodrigues following his own shot on goal.

Pittsburgh Penguins #9 Evan Rodrigues defeats New York Rangers #31 Igor Shesterkin in Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 7, 2022 in Pittsburgh.
Penguins’ Evan Rodrigues scores past Rangers goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin.
NHLI via Getty Images

Gallant noted that two of Pittsburgh’s goals came on “lucky rebounds” and gave credence to the explanation that Shesterkin was simply tired.

“Igor has been our most valuable player all season, as everyone knows, and in the playoffs,” Gallant said. “I thought we were going to give him some rest tonight and hopefully boost our squad and it worked.”

Rangers did Shesterkin no favors and were uncomfortable for the first 20 minutes themselves. Braden Schneider’s turnover that led to Rodrigues’ second goal suspended Shesterkin, a fact that doesn’t change considering that Shesterkin has often taken Rangers out of these situations all season.

Shesterkin can’t always be a superhero, although he does play one on TV.

If the Game 1 triple-overtime loss didn’t prove Shesterkin can’t win Rangers this series single-handedly, then Saturday surely did.

New York Post

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