Maybe it wasn’t the competitive imbalance in the KHL skewing Igor Shesterkin’s numbers after all.
Because the Rangers rookie Russian goalie won yet again, backstopping his team to a 3-2 win over the Sharks at the Garden on Saturday night. The 44-save performance followed his 27-save win in Carolina on Friday night, giving the 24-year-old netminder nine wins in his first 10 NHL starts. He is the first Rangers goalie to ever do that, and just the fourth goalie in history to do it.
His seven-game winning streak is tied for the longest by a rookie goaltender in Rangers history (Jim Henry in 1941-42), and it’s the fifth-longest goalie winning streak in Rangers history (Mike Richter holds the record with 11 straight in 1996-97).
Oh, and Shesterkin is the first goalie in NHL history have a .900 save percentage or better in all of his first 10 appearances since saves became a stat in 1955-56, along with the first ever to have four 40-save games, and four 40-save wins, in his first 10 contests.
“I thought he was outstanding again,” coach David Quinn said.
Shesterkin said through an interpreter, “I like when there’s a lot of shots, but it doesn’t matter how many shots there are, you always have to be prepared to help the team win.” As for getting used to the grind and the travel, he said: “It was a little tough to get acclimated after the flight, but I feel good.”
Veteran Henrik Lundqvist backed up after he had been a healthy scratch for the first time in his career on Friday night. (He also caught a puck on the bench, gave a shrug, and heard a quick “Hen-rik! Hen-rik!” chant from the fans).
When Lundqvist found out he wasn’t playing against the Hurricanes, he put in a lot of work on Friday morning and suggested to coach David Quinn that Alexandar Georgiev be the backup. Lundqvist has started just three games since Shesterkin was called up on Jan. 6, beginning this three-goalie rotation.
Georgiev was a healthy scratch.
Third-line center Filip Chytil was able to play after he was a game-time decision with an upper-body injury suffered late in the Carolina game. Chytil got 14:49 of ice time, mostly between Philip Di Giuseppe and Kaapo Kakko.
Julien Gauthier stayed in the lineup for the third straight game since he was obtained in a trade with the Hurricanes on Tuesday. The 22-year-old winger earned a penalty shot late in the second period, but a nice move to his backhand was stopped by goalie Aaron Dell. … Brendan Smith was a scratch.