The closest comparability Igor Shesterkin needed to what he skilled on Tuesday night time got here in 2019, when he began 10 playoff video games for an SKA St. Petersburg staff that made the KHL’s Western Convention Finals, getting so far as Recreation 7 towards CSKA Moscow earlier than dropping.
So, no disrespect meant to the KHL, however this … this was fairly totally different.
Good because the KHL could also be, there isn’t any Sidney Crosby to face in your crease, making an attempt to place dwelling a rebound because the clock runs down in regulation and 18,006 followers at Madison Sq. Backyard lose their collective minds.
Stopping Crosby forward of the primary extra time would account for one of many 79 saves Shesterkin made Tuesday night time, when he carried out the identical feat he did for thus a lot of his 53 regular-season begins and single-handedly saved the Rangers in Recreation 1 of their collection towards the Penguins earlier than Evgeni Malkin broke the dam with the winner, deflecting John Marino’s shot to provide Pittsburgh a 4-3 triple-overtime victory.
This time, Shesterkin’s heroics got here with the franchise report for saves in a playoff sport. Together with about 20 different superlatives.
Igor Shesterkin makes one among his 79 saves throughout the Rangers’ 4-3 triple extra time loss to the Penguins in Recreation 1.N.Y. Submit: Charles Wenzelberg
The one motive it acquired so far as triple extra time within the first place was as a result of Shesterkin, after the Rangers dominated the opening 20 minutes, saved them within the sport for the subsequent 80.
He saved what may need been his finest, and it’s onerous to choose, for the sport’s greatest moments. Take your decide between save No. 59, a scrambling pad save to disclaim Bryan Rust from the low slot eight minutes into the second extra time, or No. 70 — to set a franchise report — on Kasperi Kapanen as time expired within the fifth interval. Or the windmill glove save on Kapanen means again within the third interval.
“He’s accomplished all of it 12 months. He’s our greatest participant. He confirmed it tonight,” Ryan Strome mentioned. “He made each [save] he needed to do.”
Playoff expertise, it seems, could be overrated. Simply ask The King.
“Typically, you speak a lot about expertise — you want this and that to have success,” Henrik Lundqvist, who so typically did the identical factor within the postseason for the Rangers earlier than shifting to the MSG studio, mentioned on a video name Monday. “At occasions, you want it, however there’s loads of occasions that it’s simpler to go in recent. You don’t overthink it, you simply exit and play. You see loads of goalies have success early on within the playoffs as a result of they don’t really feel as a lot strain, they don’t overthink it, they don’t strive to determine all the things.”
Shesterkin, who forged a peaceful and assured demeanor in talking with reporters earlier that day, already appears to have all of it discovered.
And not using a translator current, the Russian leaned again in his chair and spoke succinctly. Requested whether or not he felt any additional strain taking part in within the postseason, he replied: “Proper now, no.”
It’s one factor to say that. It’s one other completely to do it.
After a robust opening 20 minutes, the Rangers spent the remainder of the sport backsliding. Shesterkin spent it role-playing as Sisyphus.
He couldn’t cease the Penguins from getting the sport to extra time. However, by way of a sport that lasted deep into the night time, he may maintain it tied for lengthy sufficient to provide the Rangers each likelihood to win it.
It’s by no means been a secret that the Rangers would wish Shesterkin at his all-world finest to have an opportunity in these playoffs, and it’s no shock that he met the second in Recreation 1.
“I believe he’ll deal with it effective,” Lundqvist mentioned Monday.
After Tuesday, all you are able to do is nod your head alongside to that assertion.