There’s only one word to describe the end of this game. It was insane. In the most unlikely of events, New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin had to leave the game with 41 seconds left in overtime to undergo concussion protocol, but returned in time to win in a nine-round shootout. It transformed a 1-1 defensive battle into one of the most memorable wins of the season.
With only one power play per team this was five on five contest, not the Rangers’ biggest strength, but they hung in after allowing a first period goal. They finally got the tying goal in the third period and after the overtime shenanigans, won that marathon skills contest.
Shesterkin was stellar in net, but some of the other heroes were unlikely as Filip Chytil netted the tying goal and K’Andre Miller scored the winning goal in the shootout.
The concussion protocol situation was pretty crazy. At 2:48 of overtime, Craig Smith ran Shesterkin on a shot attempt, bowling over the goalie. A fracas ensued and Shesterkin looked shaken up, but was fine to continue. He played another 1:31, making a glove save on a Taylor Hall shot when the trainer Jim Ramsay came out and told him he had to be checked out. Alexandar Georgiev had to come in cold for the final 41 seconds of OT and a possible shootout. Shesterkin was upset and slammed his stick into the glass on the way off the ice.
With the faceoff on the Boston zone, the Rangers were able to control play and Georgiev didn’t have to face a shot. With seven seconds left the Blueshirts called a timeout, an obvious stalling tactic before the shootout (though Gallant denied that).
With the shootout about to start, Shesterkin returned to the ice to a thrilled crowd and went on to stop seven of nine shot attempts.
This game could be a foreshadow of what the Rangers will face in the playoffs. If so, this has to be chalked up as a positive as it was the third line that came though along with the goaltender. The top players chipped in with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin scoring in the shootout.
This game is going to make Chris Drury’s job harder as he tries to figure out what moves to make on the trade market. If Chytil can use this game as a springboard to a good stretch, it will either enhance his trade value or make him difficult to surrender.
Even more important was the play of the rookie defense tandem of Zac Jones and Braden Schneider. They looked totally comfortable playing together got a lot of ice time in important situations. It was a breakout pass from Jones to Schneider that set up the third period tying goal.
Gallant was asked to assess their game, “Good, they were solid, they moved the puck, I was happy with them.”
With heavy rumors circulating about the Rangers looking for a third pair defenseman, if Zones and Schneider keeps this up, Drury won’t have to sacrifice important assets in a trade.
These Rangers keep finding ways to win and this was another game against a playoff team that they didn’t lose. They solidified their hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division and drew within one point of the Hurricanes. The magical season keeps going.