Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin error leads to Avalanche goal
The main theme of Rangers’ game against the Avalanche on Tuesday night was always going to be goaltending. In a 3-2 shootout loss to Colorado, however, a rare blunder by Blueshirts star goaltender Igor Shesterkin nearly stole the show.
Shesterkin skated to aggressively play the puck with his shorthanded team, as he has done many times before, but the goaltender mishandled it while absorbing a tough forecheck from Colorado forward Andrew Cogliano. Before Shesterkin could get ready, Cogliano fed Logan O’Connor, who scored to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead just 59 seconds into the third period.
Pausing in what appeared to be disbelief, Shesterkin simply stared at the mirror. Rangers managed to even the score and force overtime behind Adam Fox’s goal in the third period before Colorado forward Evan Rodrigues won it for his team in the shootout.
“A goalkeeper stopped a shot; the other missed a shot,” Shesterkin said through an interpreter after the loss. « That’s the difference. »
Shesterkin has been praised by his teammates for his particular puck-handling skills, but considering everything he does and the risk it always entails, such a play had to happen at some point.
In the shootout, after forward Nathan MacKinnon missed Colorado’s first shot attempt, Shesterkin made the save on defenseman Cale Makar. Mikko Rantanen and Rodrigues then each scored to give the Avalanche the lead.
Shesterkin finished with 42 saves on 44 shots, including five against Colorado’s deadly power play.
« He’s made one mistake in two years, » Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said with a smile. “To be honest, I didn’t even see what happened. I just saw he had the puck in the corner, I have no idea. It happens, we get out of it and we get over it.
There was a bizarre moment at the end of the first period, when Alexis Lafrenière was called for Makar in the face. Replays showed it was clearly Colorado defenseman Devon Toews’ stick that hit Makar, but since only minor double calls can be reviewed, the inaccurate offense stood.
Rangers managed to clear the penalty for head scratching.
« He has no choice, he has to make the call, » Gallant said. « It’s disappointing and frustrating, but he made the right choice. »
Defender Libor Hajek played only his second game of the season, replacing Zac Jones on the bottom pair alongside Braden Schneider. Jones, who had a tough game in a loss to the Blue Jackets on Sunday, was left out.