Igor Shesterkin pitched his first shutout of the season, and he did it in style.
The Rangers star netminder made 19 saves, including eight crucial stops in the third period, to propel his team to overtime before Chris Kreider scored with less than a minute remaining in the extra period to take a 1-0 win over the Flyers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“Massive,” Kreider said of how important Shesterkin was to the win. “It’s like old hat at this point. He makes really hard saves look easy, so when they’re getting those flurries we on the bench probably don’t realize how good of a chance some of those chances are when he makes them look that easy. He’s our best player pretty much every night and he certainly was tonight.”
Philadelphia had their best scoring opportunities of the game in the final 20 minutes of regulation, but Shesterkin shut the door on every single one. He flashed the windmill on former Ranger Kevin Hayes. There was a diving save at the post later on, as well. And after giving up a few rebounds earlier in the night, Shesterkin tightened it up and gave the Flyers nothing to work with.
“He’s been big for us every game for the past however many years he’s been here,” said Mika Zibanejad, who set up Kreider’s game-winning goal. “He comes up clutch and that’s what we need.”
Vitali Kravtsov will be unavailable for at least a week with an upper-body injury, the Rangers announced Tuesday, meaning the 22-year-old winger will be sidelined through at least the next four games.
This will mark the third stretch of games Kravtsov has had to miss due to injury, after he suffered upper-body injuries in the season opener and in the loss to the Avalanche on Oct. 25, which was just two games after he returned from the first injury.
Kravtsov, who has a prominent bruise on his nose, sustained his most recent injury — which is suspected to have something to do with his head — in a race for the puck in the game against the Stars this past weekend. He was crunched into the boards by Dallas defenseman Jani Hakanpaa and was slow to get up before exiting to the locker room.
Asked if he thinks Kravtsov will learn to protect himself better as he gains more NHL experience, Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said he hopes so.
“You got to play the game hard, you got to play the game aggressive, but he probably put himself in a bad situation the other night,” the coach said. “I want him going and being first on pucks, we talked about it. Not be a little smarter, but be a little safer than that. It’s too bad, because he’s played okay.”
Filip Chytil (upper-body injury) is still considered day-to-day, but the Czech center has resumed skating.
“I don’t want to say how close [he is to returning], I don’t know,” Gallant said. “It’s day-to-day, that’s all I know. He’s doing well. He’s skating hard, working and getting ready to play.”