New York Rangers blank Penguins as Igor Shesterkin dominates
The New York Rangers took on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the last time in the regular season.
Penguins captain and leading scorer Sidney Crosby was one of three Pittsburgh players who missed the came due to non-Covid related illness. Defenseman John Marino and forward Radim Zohorna were the other two.
However, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference with a super-sharp Igor Shesterkin making 30 saves to blank the Pens.
“I thought he was excellent,” Gerard Gallant said after the game on MSG. “People were worried about him but I wasn’t. He’s had a so called tough stretch but it was more of the team than it was him for me.”
Recap: Rangers 3 vs Penguins 0
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin stopped all 30 shots he faced and the New York Rangers rode a two-goal second period Thursday to top the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0.
It was the sixth career shutout, fourth of the season and first against Pittsburgh for Shesterkin, who had lost two straight starts and avoided hit first three-game losing skid of the season.
“It was a very important game,” Shesterkin said afterwards. “I think the boys put out a great game with blocked shots.”
It was the final meeting of the regular season for the Rangers (46-20-6, 98 points) and Penguins (41-21-10, 92 points). The Metropolitan Division foes each have 10 games remaining and could well face each other in the opening round of the playoffs.
It was also the third meeting in less than three weeks between the clubs, with the Rangers winning the previous two by a combined 8-3.
Frank Vatrano, Artemi Panarin and Dryden Hunt scored for the Rangers, who won their second straight.
The Penguins have lost three in row and six of of their past eight (2-5-1).
Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry, who lost his third start in a row, made 21 saves.
New York Rangers newcomers keep bringing it
The first period was evenly played, with New York holding a 10-9 shots advantage, but with no goals.
Vatrano gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 24 seconds into the second. On a rebound of a Chris Kreider shot, Vatrano sent a backhander from 10 feet past a sprawling Jarry. He has nine goals in 16 career games against the Penguins.
“Mika’s a playmakers and me and Kreids like to go north-south,” Vatrano said of his game-winning goal.
At 9:47 of the second, Panarin, playing in his 500th career game, picked up his 20th goal of the season to make it 2-0. Coming across the slot, he lifted a backhander under the crossbar.
“Strome coming back has been good,” Panarin explained. “He, Copp, and I have great chemistry.”
New York nearly got a late goal in the second, but Mika Zibanejad’s shot went in the net just after the clock wound down.
Hunt added an empty-net goal with 38 seconds left in regulation.
“It puts us up six points up on Pittsburgh,” Gallant said. “It’s another stepping stone to keep our team going and we want to win games. We’ve got 10 games left and let’s see what happens.”
- Igor Shesterkin stopped all 30 shots for his 4th shutout of the season
- Artemi Panarin scored his 20th goal of the season in his 500th career game
- Frank Vatrano picked up his 6th goal with the Rangers (12 GP, 6G – 2A)
- Andrew Copp picked up an assist for points in 8 of 9 games with the Rangers (3G – 7A)
Tomorrow (Friday, April 8): Practice at MSG Training Center (12:00 p.m. ET)
Next Game: Saturday, April 9 vs. Ottawa Senators (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG)
*Schedule subject to change
The Montreal Canadiens and Martin St. Louis will meet after the season to determine his future. Plus the Edmonton Oilers could make a play for Ville Husso and there’s been trade talk around Mark Scheifele. Read more.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report