The Czar of New York has arrived. Igor Shesterkin came into Madison Square Garden Tuesday night ready for his first start in the National Hockey League. It wasn’t going to be an easy task coming out with a win going up against the Colorado Avalanche but the Rangers battled and got it done. Thanks to Shesterkin and friends.
The game probably didn’t start the way Igor wanted it to. The first shot Colorado registered ended up in the back of the net. J.T. Compher deflected the puck in front and it slipped through Shesty’s right arm and in. 1-0 Colorado. Knowing this Rangers fanbase I’m quite shocked people were calling to trade him and send him back to the AHL or ship him back to Russia. We remained calm for a chance. Letting in the first shot you face in your NHL career probably isn’t great for your confidence but hey, that guy Henrik Lundqvist let in a goal on the first shot he ever faced in the NHL and I think he turned out to be a decent goalie.
Not even two minutes later, Adam Fox coughed a puck at the blueline and Nathan MacKinnon was off to the races. Not great for Igor. MacKinnon settled down the puck, waited put Shesty and was able to slip the puck through his five hole and put the Avs up 2-0. Definitely not a great start and it’s moments like this why I remember how no NHL teams want Lindy Ruff. He sucks. Igor settled down after the second goal and didn’t allow another goal for the rest of the period. Very reassuring that he was able to compose himself and not let the game get away from him.
The Rangers got their offense going shortly after the MacKinnon goal. After a penalty on Joonas Donskoi, the Rangers went to work on the powerplay and it didn’t take long for them to get a goal. Chris Kreider was able to find the back of the net off a feed from Strome and DeAngelo. Kreider doing his best to get his trade value up before the deadline so the Rangers can continue this fantastic rebuild. What a class act! 2-1 Rangers.
The Rangers were able to even the score later on in the period. DeAngelo centered a puck and Mika Zibanejad was able to reach his stick out and deflect it past Grubauer. Tony DeAngelo has been an absolute assist machine this season. With his two assists in the first period tonight Tony D has tied his career high in points for a season at 31. Safe to say he’s going to blow that number out of the water.
The Rangers continued their scoring in the second period. After missing on basically an empty net, Brady Skjei totally redeems himself minutes later. Panarin took the puck behind the Avs net, fired it up the boards to Fox, who tapped it over to Skjei, who rifled the puck from the blueline right past Grubauer and gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Big goal for Skjei, another point for Panarin, a lead for Shesterkin.
Unfortunately, the Rangers weren’t able to hold the lead for long. Minutes after the Skjei goal. JT Compher was able to find the back of the net for the second time tonight. His goal knotted the game at 3.
Ryan Strome has been playing like a man possessed this season. He continued his excellent play once again tonight. Artemi Panarin, once again being the spark of this offense, took the puck to the blueline, turned and fired the puck on net. Jesper Fast found the rebound and quickly tapped it over to Strome who fired it into the mesh for his 12th goal of the season. The goal gave the Rangers the lead back and this ended up being the deciding goal of the game. 4-3 Rangers
The third period basically consisted of Shesterkin making great saves to keep the Rangers on top. The Rangers defense also played exceptionally well in the third period which is extremely out of the ordinary from them. The Rangers were able to put the dagger into the chests of the Avalanche by scoring on an empty net with 28 seconds remaining in the period. Who scored the goal? Artemi Panarin, his third point of the night, which seems like something he’s been doing on an every game basis at this point. The Rangers come away with a 5-3 victory over this very good Colorado Avalanche team. Huge game for Shesterkin. Great games by Panarin and DeAngelo. All around a good night to be a fan of the New York Rangers.
We also got a little passing of the torch moment between Hank and Igor. Puts thing in perspective that the Lundqvist era is dwindling down and that it is coming to an end but it’s good to see that the future has arrived, in more ways than one.