Igor Shesterkin stars for Rangers in home opener to defeat Coyotes 2-1

The New York Rangers picked up the victory in their home opener, defeating the Arizona Coyotes by a final score of 2-1. Special teams told the story in this one, as two out of the three goals in the game happened during a man-advantage. The penalty kill was a huge factor as well for the Rangers, as they needed to rely on their man down units five times throughout the contest.

Of course, Igor Shesterkin was the story stopping 26 of 27 shots, including a penalty shot against Jason Zucker in the final period.

The much needed bounce back brings the Rangers to a 2-1-0 record on the season.

“It was a hard fought win,” Peter Laviolette said. “We had to kill a lot of penalties, that took away from the flow of the game. We came out in the third period and started to push after it didn’t go our way in the second. It was a pretty gutsy effort.”

Related: A look at the Rangers salary cap situation

New York Rangers 2 vs Arizona Coyotes 1

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The game opened up with incredible pace as both teams exchanged scoring opportunities. Contributing to the furious play was Artemi Panarin, who has been skating noticeably well. The Rangers and Coyotes continued the back-and-forth action throughout the period.

The Blueshirts came close to finding the back of the net multiple times but could not break through Arizona goaltender Conor Ingram. This was until a 2-on-1 rush up the ice saw Mika Zibanejad freeze up Ingram and slide the puck over to Kreider for a wide open net, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. This was Kreider’s fourth goal of the season and gives him a three game goal scoring streak.

Following the first tally of the night, a Vincent Trocheck penalty would give Arizona the first man up opportunity. The Ranger’s penalty kill was solid, denying the middle of the ice for over a minute until an Arizona penalty negated the man-advantage.

The ensuing power play led to several scoring chances for the Blueshirts, but they could not capitalize. After the first, the Rangers head into the locker room with a 1-0 lead, out shooting the Coyotes 13-10.

The Rangers came out flying to start the second period. Passing well and controlling play for the first three minutes, yet registering no shots. Unfortunately, this momentum was put to a halt due to a Ranger penalty. This would be the man-advantage that Arizona needed to even the score, as Clayton Keller blasted one off Shesterkin’s glove and in. A goal that the Ranger’s netminder would certainly like back.

After yet another penalty, the Rangers struggled to find the rhythm and speed that made their first period successful. Special teams quickly became a story for this game, as the Rangers not only gave up a goal on the penalty kill but failed to capitalize on the power play.

The ice seemed to be tilted against New York throughout the period. So much so that Panarin had a near breakaway blocked by the skate of the referee in what would have been their best scoring chance in the middle frame. Immediately following this, the Rangers took two more penalties, giving the Coyotes a 5-on-3 with just 1:19 to play in the period.

Igor Shesterkin bailed out the Rangers big time, making several incredible stops to end the period tied 1-1. Momentum certainly swung in favor of Arizona in the second, as the Blueshirts only managed four shots on goal. The Coyotes would come out for the third period with 41 seconds remaining in the 5-on-3 advantage.

Largely due to a selfless block by Jacob Trouba, the Rangers were able to kill off the remainder of the 5-on-3. New York ramped up the shots shortly after as they looked to score the crucial tie-breaking goal.

The momentum of the game swung heavily following the incredible penalty killing of the Rangers. Special teams remained a factor as the Rangers’ power play was given another opportunity. After Zibanejad was robbed of a sure goal by Ingram, the Blueshirts finally broke the tie. Vincent Trocheck found the back of the net off of a deflection from a Panarin shot for his first goal of the season, giving his team a 2-1 lead.

The Rangers began to lock it down defensively, relying on head coach Peter Laviolette’s new system and 1-3-1 trap. They denied the middle of the ice and kept scoring chances to the outside. The biggest chance of the game for Arizona came when Jason Zucker beat the Ranger’s defense, but was held and awarded a penalty shot with just under five minutes to play.

This set the stage to solidify Igor Shesterkin as the game’s first star, remaining calm the entire way he made a casual stop, keeping the score at 2-1. For his career, he’s a perfect 4 for 4 on penalty shots.

“I’d rather them have a penalty shot than a power play,” Trocheck admitted. “Two minutes can create a lot of momentum, but Shesterkin is going to save most of those.”

The Rangers denied Arizona the ability to pull Ingram by keeping the puck in the offensive zone for the majority of the final minutes. Once the Coyotes did pull their goalie for the extra man, the Rangers were able to take care of business and lock things down defensively in order to win their home opener with a final score of 2-1.

“We played a great game and it wasn’t easy,” Shesterkin said afterwards. “On the penalty shot it’s more like mind games. I was ready for a shot on the blocker side. Right now I want to go relax with my family.”

Rangers Notes

  • Igor Shesterkin bounced back from last game, stopping 26 of 27 shots.
  • Chris Kreider scored for the third consecutive game and now has four goals on the season.
  • Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad both recorded their fourth assists of the season while Artemi Panarin notched his third.
  • The Rangers went 1 for 3 on the power play and killed 4 out of 5 penalties.

The Rangers are back in action on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM ET at Madison Square Garden.

New York will be back at practice on Tuesday at the MSG Training Center starting at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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