EDMONTON, Alberta — Igor Shesterkin’s recent struggles carried over into the first period Friday night against the Oilers, but the Rangers netminder bounced back in the second period and backstopped his team to a 5-4 shootout victory.
The rest of the team’s play in front of him didn’t do Shesterkin any favors in the first period, but a couple of his delayed reactions cost the Rangers as they fell behind 4-1. Shesterkin said he wasn’t sure if Gerard Gallant was going to take him out or not, but the Rangers head coach ultimately left his No. 1 goalie in the game.
“The way we played in the first, I felt good about our team,” Gallant said when asked if he contemplated pulling Shesterkin. “I was going to see what happened in the second period. The first 10 went well and you know, he’s going to battle back. He’s a star goalie. He’s got a lot of pride in there. Obviously, if they would’ve made it five or six, then definitely. He played hard and he battled.He made one huge save when it was 4-2 early in the second and from that point on he played great.”
After he gave up four goals on 12 shots in the first period, Shesterkin finished with 25 saves on 29 shots, including key saves in the shootout against Connor McDavid, Tyson Barrie, Derek Ryan and Kailer Yamamoto.
In each of his past five games, Shesterkin has given up three or more goals. In total, the 27-year-old has allowed 17 goals on 147 shots.
Gallant and director of goaltending Benoit Allaire were in a tough spot when it came to deciding whether or not to pull Shesterkin in favor of Jaroslav Halak, who has been on his game lately and has gone 7-0 in his past seven appearances. The Rangers are playing Saturday night in Calgary, so it was a difficult decision, when taking into consideration the competition, Shesterkin’s confidence and what was best for the team.
Shesterkin repeatedly said the rest of the team did a great job battling back in the game, but the goalie then walked away from reporters in the middle of questions.
Oilers star Connor McDavid reached the 100-point mark for the season in his 56th game. It was the sixth time in his eight-season NHL career with at least 100 points, and the third consecutive season.
“I’d like it if he had 99 after the game tonight,” Gallant said before the game. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
His 100th point came when he assisted on Ryan Nugent-Hopkin’s power-play goal in the first period. Point No. 101 for McDavid was also an assist on Leon Draisaitl’s power-play goal at the end of the opening frame.