Igor Shesterkin could return to Rangers ahead of schedule

Igor Shesterkin could return to Rangers ahead of schedule

Some unexpected good news came out of the Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the Flyers on Sunday afternoon at the Garden, as coach David Quinn said that presumptive No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin may be closer to returning from his broken rib than most thought.

The 24-year-old Shesterkin suffered the non-displaced fracture when he and teammate Pavel Buchnevich were in a car accident in Brooklyn last Sunday. Shesterkin, who had won nine of his first 10 NHL starts before the injury, was supposed to be reevaluated in “a couple weeks,” but that timeline seems to have shortened.

“He feels a lot better,” Quinn said. “He’s been on the ice, taken some shots — nothing high. So he might be back sooner than we envisioned.”

Since being called up on Jan. 6, Shesterkin had gotten the bulk of the starts when he was healthy — missing three games with a minor ankle injury. Alexandar Georgiev had started the previous three straight games, but Henrik Lundqvist got his first start on Sunday since Feb. 3, and just his fourth start since Shesterkin had been called up.

It’s hard to guess when Shesterkin might be ready to practice with the team — and then play — but it could be sooner than originally suspected.

“It’s an injury that you’re going to have to monitor daily,” Quinn said. “But he has made a lot of progress in a week.”

Ryan Strome, whose 58 points is good for third on the team, was benched for all of the third period after he had taken two bad penalties in the opening 40 minutes. The first resulted in a Sean Couturier power-play goal, the second in a power-play goal from Travis Konecny, which made it 5-1. Strome was also on for Michael Raffl’s shorthanded goal late in the first.

“Two penalties that he can’t take, and I just didn’t like his game,” Quinn said.

Quinn said there was “no timetable yet” regarding the fractured foot that Chris Kreider suffered while blocking a shot in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia. A broken bone normally takes about four-to-six weeks to heal, and the regular season ends in just under five weeks, on April 4.

For most of the first two periods, Quinn had Phillip Di Giuseppe in Kreider’s spot on the left side of the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. He juggled the lines a lot in the third, and the Artemi Panarin-Zibanejad combo was prevalent.

Panarin also collected two assists, extending his career-best points streak to 13 games (he had another 12-game points streak early in the season). He is the first Rangers to have a points streak of at least 13 games since Scott Gomez in 2007-08.

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