Star Spangled Barrier, Igor Shines to Lead Rangers to 8th Consecutive Win

AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie

EE-Gore, EE-Gore, EE-Gore.

Those more than well deserved chants rained down at Madison Square Garden for Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin who stole the game for the Broadway Blueshirts.

Shesterkin was brilliant as he made 41 saves, including 17 in a busy third period to lead the Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Central Division leading Dallas Stars for their 8th consecutive win.

I thought we battled hard, they’re a good team over there,” said Adam Fox, who scored the first goal of the game. “To limit them to that one PP goal, obviously a good effort by us, big saves by Shesty. It was easy after that emotional win to maybe, have a little letdown emotion or energy here, but I thought we brought it from the start and obviously a nice win.”

In their previous meeting in Dallas in November, the Rangers had a 2-1 lead after two, but the Stars scored five unanswered goals (2 into an empty net) against Shesterkin as Dallas scored a 6-3 win.

Once again, the Rangers had a 2-1 lead after two, but this time, Shesterkin got a measure of revenge as he was utterly spectacular in the third period. The Stars, who lead the NHL with 75 third period goals, kept up the pressure throughout the final stanza, but Shersterkin was equal to the task.

Early in the third, Shesterkin denied Mason Marchment and Miro Heiskanen but his best work came against the Stars Tyler Seguin.

With a little over four minutes left, there was a scramble in front of the Ranger net. Seguin had a wide open net and tried to back hand it in, but Shesterkin somehow made a jaw dropping save with his stick while he was lying on the ice.

Seguin was seen on the TV broadcast saying, “Wow” while Matt Duchene put his hands on his helmet in stunned disbelief.

The Stars pulled their goalie and after Shesterkin made saves on Sam Steel and Jamie Benn, Vincent Trocheck put the game out of reach with an empty net goal with 1:41 remaining.

To their credit, the Stars wouldn’t quit as Shesterkin made four saves in the final minute, three on Dallas’ leading scorer Jason Robertson and a save off his mask on a shot from Roope Hintz.

There was a couple of back door plays. Then, they pulled the goalie and he’s still making saves, off the pad, off the shoulder,” said Coach Peter Laviolette after a satisfying win.

The Rangers had some chances in the first period but they finally dented the scoreboard less than eight minutes into the first period as they capped off a strong shift in the offensive zone.

Fox took a pass from Artemi Panarin and fired a one timer from the slot past Stars goaltender Scott Wedgewood for a 1-0 lead. There was a scramble in front and Panarin was able to get the loose puck to set up Fox for the goal.

The Ranger defenseman is getting hot as he now has points (1G, 6A) in seven straight games. Panarin’s assist gave him 12 points in his last eight games, while Ryan Lindgren, who was playing his first game with a shield after he was hit in the face during Sunday’s Stadium Series game, also had a helper as the Rangers held a 1-0 lead after one.

Kappo Kakko continues to play well and now he’s starting to get on the scoresheet on a more consistent basis. “I thought he [Kakko] had another strong game. I gotta find a way to put him out there more,” Laviolette said.

The Rangers were cycling in the offensive zone when Erik Gustafsson found Kakko in the left face off circle and he fired a blistering wrist shot that beat Stars goaltender Scott Wedgewood. Kakko’s 7th goal of the season gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the second period and he now has a five game point scoring streak.

I got a good chance before that, Brodsky [Brodzinski] passed it to me behind the net,” Kakko said. “I couldn’t see the puck so I didn’t shoot when I got it, then got that chance again. I think it was good lane, just tried to shoot it.”

Dallas came right back and scored less than a minute later. With the Stars on the power play, the Rangers could not get control of the puck and Heiskanen cashed in on the scramble in front to cut the lead to 2-1.

The final 20 minutes was the Igor Shesterkin show with some amazing stops to keep Dallas off the board.

I think he’s [Shesterkin] putting together some games now that are really giving us an advantage to win hockey games,” Laviolette said. “Tonight, he gave us an edge, especially in the third period when we needed it, I thought he was at his absolute best.”

The Rangers were physical (27-12 advantage in hits) and were winning the majority of the 50-50 battles along the boards against one of the better teams in the NHL.

The Rangers are tied for the most wins in the NHL with 37 and they have 24 wins when they score first, which is tied for second in the league.

Kakko probably said it best about this current surge that the Rangers are on. “There’s a lot of good things we’ve been doing right now,” he said.

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