Russian Rangers continue to drive playoff push in latest shutout of Devils

By Anthony Scultore
Apr 15, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Igor Shesterkin #31 and Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers celebrate their 4-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devilsat Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Nyet! Igor Shesterkin after recording his first ever NHL shutout in New Jersey on Tuesday picked up his second at Madison Square Garden. The New York Rangers shutout the New Jersey Devils again, this time by a 4-0 score. Offensively, it’s been an show for Artemi Panarin as he’s notched three goals and an assist in this 4 game set against New Jersey.

Rangers vs Devils: Russian Blueshirts power playoff push

Shesterkin notched his second straight shutout after recoding his first ever NHL goose egg on Tuesday. He only had to make 16 saves last night in the Blueshirts 4-0 blanking of the Devils. With the victory his record improves to 12-9-3 and drops his GAA to 2.25 while upping his SV% to .925 in the process. Since the calendar flipped to March, Shesty is 8-2-2.

“Obviously, two shutouts are great, but I will reinforce the fact that it wouldn’t have happened without the guys,” Shesterkin said. “They’re going down, blocking every shot, eating pucks. It never happens without them. We’re playing the right way. We’re taking it step by step and we’re trying to make the playoffs.”

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Meanwhile, Artemi Panarin scored twice and picked up an assist to power the Rangers offense. He’s starting to raise the MVP flag with his dominant play. So how important is the Breadman to the Blueshirts? Since his return on March 13th from a forced leave of absence due to a political hit job he has 28 points and is a +16 in 18 games.

If that isn’t enough to convince Hart Trophy voters, Panarin has recorded at least a point in 50 of the Blueshirts 58 wins since he joined the club last year. Despite only playing 32 games this season, his 46 points have him 11th overall in scoring. His 1.44 points per game however place him third behind Connor McDavid (1.64) and Leon Draisaitl (1.45).

artemi panarin
Apr 15, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers scores at 12:51 of the second period against Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 15, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers may very well lament their slow start to the season as they’ve been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since Panarin’s mid-March return. They’ve gone 11-4-3 for 25 points and are the best team in the East division during that span. They are getting scoring from three lines and their blue-line to go with spectacular goaltending.

The Blueshirts remain four points behind the Bruins but are quietly closing the gap on some of the top teams in the division. They Penguins lost in a shootout to the Flyers 2-1 so the Blueshirts are 9 points in back of Pittsburgh as well. 

Blueshirts Bits and Bites

  • Jacob Trouba opened the scoring with Ryan Lindgren recoding his first goal of the season right after. The Rangers defense has been engaged in the offensive and have scored four of the Blueshirts last nine goals over the last three games.
  • Adam Fox leads all defenseman in the scoring this season with 40 points after he notched an assist last night.
  • Vitali Kravtsov scored his first NHL goal. Then Lindy Ruff took it away with an offside challenge. Mika Zibanejad skate was basically a few centimeters ahead of the puck. The kid is still hunting for his first, it will come.

Rangers post game notes

  • The Rangers have posted a shutout in two consecutive games (Apr. 13 at New Jersey and tonight vs. New Jersey) for the first time since Dec. 9, 2016 at Chicago and Dec. 11, 2016 vs. New Jersey.
  • The Artemi Panarin-Ryan Strome-Colin Blackwell line registered eight points (two goals, six assists) in tonight’s game, and each player posted a multi-point game in the contest. Blackwell and Panarin were on the ice for each of the Rangers’ four goals in the game.
  • As of the conclusion of tonight’s game, the Rangers’ plus-28 goal differential this season is tied for the best among teams in the MassMutual NHL East Division.
  • Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox have each recorded 40 or more points thus far this season. The Rangers have at least one forward and one defenseman who have registered 40 or more points through the team’s first 43 games of a season for the first time since 2000-01 (Mark Messier, Theo Fleury, and Brian Leetch).

The Rangers will practice today, 12:00 p.m. at MSG Training Center. Their next game is Saturday, Apr. 17 vs. New Jersey (12:30 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network).

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