Rangers spoil great performance by Igor Shesterkin; fall in OT to Devils

Igor Shesterkin was hoping to celebrate the three year anniversary of his NHL debut in New Jersey with a win and things were looking good with a 3-1 lead after two periods.

Unfortunately, the pattern between these two teams in the previous two meetings held true. This season, whomever has had the early lead loses which is exactly what happened. By doing so, the Rangers wasted a 39 save performance from their All Star goalie.

“It was back and forth a lot…obviously [Shesterkin] was our best player and gave us a chance to win a hockey game,” Gerard Gallant said in the MSG postgame. “We had some good looks and chances but we just couldn’t hold on to that lead.”

Igor Shesterkin New York Rangers
Jan 7, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Igor Shesterkin can’t save the Rangers

The game got off to a good start when former Devil and recently extended Ranger Jimmy Vesey opened the scoring 1:34 into the first period. He made a strong play in the slot and fired it by Vitek Vanecek with Alexis Lafreniere and Jacob Trouba getting the assists on the goal.

New York spent the rest of the period chasing New Jersey around the ice as they watched Igor Shesterkin turn away all 19 shots hurled his way. In fairness, the shot clock operator may have had an itchy finger in counting the Devils shots. Enough so that Gallant questioned it with reporters after the game.

Julien Gauthier would increase the Blueshirts lead early in the second period off a nifty passing play by Adam Fox. The big and speedy forward took the puck around Vanecek and tucked it nicely into an open net for a 2-0 lead.

Jack Hughes then led the Devils charge scoring an unassisted goal by picking off an awful Barclay Goodrow pass that split the Rangers defense to beat Shesterkin.

The Rangers regained controlled when Chris Kreider put home a rebound off a K’Andre Miller shot with 6:45 remaining in the middle frame.

Everything seemed to be falling into place for the Rangers to overtake the Devils for second place in the Metro considering how strong they’ve been in third periods this season.

Then it all unraveled.

It started with Jesper Bratt blasting one on the power play at the 8:28 mark and then Hughes notched his second of the game to tie it a little over two minutes later.

From there, both teams settled down and avoided taking any unnecessary risks in order to gain a point.

In overtime, Mika Zibanejad almost won it on a great individual effort but it wasn’t meant to be.

Damon Severson scored the overtime winner unassisted after Lafreniere and Filip Chytil were gassed because they over-extended their shift. As soon as the puck went in, an upset Gallant went to the locker room.

The OT loss gives the Rangers sole possession of third place in the Metro by a point over the Washington Capitals, but leaves them two points behind the Devils for second.

“You’re at Game 41. You’re not going to make or break anything today,” Trouba reasoned. “They’re all important but it’s an 82 game season. I think as a team we’re more confident and playing with more togetherness.”

The Rangers next game is Tuesday night at the Garden as they welcome back Ryan Reaves and the Minnesota Wild.

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