Rangers ride Igor Shesterkin and special teams in 3-1 win over Flames

The New York Rangers left the friendly confines of the Big Apple last week, traveling to the Pacific Northwest for the start of their longest road trip of the season. After defeating the Seattle Kraken (4-1) on Saturday night, the Rangers collected their second consecutive win on Tuesday by beating the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Interestingly, as one of the late-night marquee matchups during ESPN’s Frozen Frenzy, two conflicting playing styles clashed, but ultimately, the difference came down to special teams and pad saves. Overall, Igor Shesterkin (24 saves) picked up his first career win against the Flames, while New York went two-for-three on the man advantage in the second period to improve to 2-0 on this five-game road trip.

Thanks to the win, the Rangers are now 4-2-0 through six games, good enough for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Related: Artemi Panarin earning Peter Laviolette’s trust

New York Rangers 3 vs Calgary Flames 1

NHL: New York Rangers at Calgary Flames
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, teams don’t find their legs right off when they play on the road, and their passes are not as crisp. Also, there’s a higher chance of mental breakdowns leading to penalties like too many men. Ultimately, it looked like it would be that kind of game for the Rangers, who gave up the first goal when Blake Coleman scored just 1:15 into the game.

However, New York found a groove late in the period and had several scoring chances to finish the frame with eight shots. Interestingly, the Rangers held the league’s second-highest shooting team to just eight pucks on goal, tying their lowest total in the first period.

Despite giving up the first goal, Shesterkin was solid, making cross-crease saves, utilizing his legs to snuff out any Flames opportunities. Meanwhile, the Rangers started connecting on their passes and made netminder Jacob Markström work to keep the puck out of his net.

Ultimately, the game changed in the second period when Flames’ rookie Matthew Coronato took a holding penalty, which allowed New York to set up on the power play. As time was winding on the man advantage, Alexis Lafreniere tipped home an Erik Gustafsson shot from the point to tie the contest at 1-1 at 7:38. After that play, Vincent Trocheck took a slashing call, giving Calgary a chance to get back into the game, but nothing came out of the man advantage for the home team.

“I think we got off to a little bit of a slow start, but after that we played well,” Lafreniere said via NHL.com. “It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got the job done — two big points.”

Even though Trocheck led all Rangers’ forwards in ice time (19:39), he was very active in the second period, getting Nikita Zadorov to commit a holding penalty, sending New York back on the power play. Shortly after, the Rangers capitalized on their second straight-man advantage. After Artemi Panarin curled with the puck at the blue line and found some open space, he fired a slap pass to Chris Kreider, standing beside the net, who deflected a beautiful feed over Markström’s shoulder.

Upon grabbing a 2-1 lead at 14:09 of the second, the Rangers kept out of the box in the third period as things tightened up with New York defending a one-goal game against a team desperate for offense. Unsurprisingly, Calgary fired nine shots at Shesterkin in the third but didn’t generate any excellent scoring chance as the Rangers’ netminder continued to make key saves, preserving the lead for the visitors.

Eventually, Gustafsson notched his first goal of the season at 16:53 of the third period to seal the win by poking home a loose puck in the crease. After Filip Chytil fired a shot from the point that snuck through the pads of Markström, the puck sat in the crease inches from the goal line when Gustafsson outworked Jonathan Huberdeau to push the puck across the line.

Overall, New York picked up two easy points against a struggling Western Conference team still trying to figure out how to make it work. Even though it wasn’t pretty, especially since the Rangers got slaughtered in the faceoff circle 60.4% to 39.6%, their worst showing of the season, they managed to keep the Flames to just 25 shots while blocking 23.

“It’s coming,” Kreider explained via NHL.com. “We’re building some stuff, some stuff we want to work on. Each game presents a different challenge, different kill, different opportunities at different times.”

This game wasn’t as physical as previous encounters in Calgary, with just 23 combined hits, and there were only seven penalties until the dying minutes when the Flames unraveled for a couple of pointless infractions, costing them opportunities with their goalie pulled.

Rangers Notes

  • After the win, Shesterkin improved to 3-2 on the season. Interestingly, he’s given up just three goals in those wins but surrendered nine in his two losses.
  • Chytil had another two-point game and now has five points on the road trip thus far.
  • Kreider scored his 95th career power play goal and is now just five away from becoming the fifth Rangers player to reach 100.
  • Gustafsson had his first two-point night with New York and the first game since Apr. 8, 2023, with a goal and assist.
  • Lafreniere has goals in back-to-back games for the ninth time in his career, including a tally in three straight games against Calgary.

The Rangers remain on the road, heading north to Edmonton for practice on Wednesday morning before taking on the Oilers on Thursday night at Rogers Place for another late one with puck drop at 9:00 PM ET.

Some of Ryan Gagne's all-time favorite goalies have been Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, and Igor Shesterkin. As a Yankees... More about Ryan Gagne

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