Igor Shesterkin helps Rangers Game 6 win

PITTSBURGH — The Rangers have relied on goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin all season. On Friday night, he even provided an assist at a pivotal point in their 5-3 Game 6 win over the Penguins.

With the Rangers on a power play in the second period, Shesterkin skated without hesitation all the way to the bottom of the right faceoff circle to get the Penguins clear of the puck, tied at 2-2.

Shesterkin launched the puck onto the ice as the Penguins made a change. The puck hit Mika Zibanejad squarely on the tape of his stick. Zibanejad put the puck on the net and Chris Kreider cleared the loose rebound to give the Rangers their first lead of the night en route to victory that resulted in a winner-take-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

“I’m practicing,” Shesterkin said, without the help of a translator, of his secondary assist on Kreider’s first of two goals that night.

Igor Shesterkin (right) celebrates with Chris Kreider after Rangers' Game 6 win over Pittsburgh.
Igor Shesterkin (right) celebrates with Chris Kreider after Rangers’ Game 6 win over Pittsburgh.
NHLI via Getty Images

Shesterkin made 31 saves in his first road win in this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against Pittsburgh, where the crowd relentlessly taunted the Rangers star goalkeeper in all three games at the PPG Paints Arena. The booing even started before the national anthem on Friday night, and continued throughout the game, as they have for all series.

The 26-year-old, who was introduced to real playoff hockey for the first time after making one appearance in the 2020 bubble playoffs in front of an empty arena, admitted that playing on the road this postseason has been tough.

“It’s very difficult,” he said. “I try to go to my thoughts. I try to concentrate.”

Benoit Allaire, Rangers director of goaltending, gave him a tip, Shesterkin said, but he didn’t want to share it.

“When the game is over, you just try to forget the game,” Shesterkin said. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. You need to win four in this series. l [was] pulled out twice, doesn’t matter. Coach believes in me. I would like to thank you. I’m just trying to find my game.”

The Rangers fell 2-0 in as many games for the second time. When asked what was going through his mind at that moment, Shesterkin said bluntly that nothing changes for him.

“I know we have to go back to New York for Game 7,” he said. “And I tried to focus on the puck the whole time.”

Tyler Motte made his first appearance since April 7, when the trade deadline takeover suffered what the Rangers described as a “significant” upper-body injury against, coincidentally, the Penguins. In the third period of an eventual 4-1 Rangers win that night, Pittsburgh winger Anthony Angello scored a high hit on Motte, eliminating him for the last 15 games of the regular season.

Tyler Motte fights for the puck in the Rangers' win over the Penguins.
Tyler Motte fights for the puck in the Rangers’ win over the Penguins.

Angello, who played in four games for the Penguins this season, has not played in this first-round Stanley Cup series.

Motte took one shot on target and one goal over 9:32 Ice Age in Game 6, including 2:11 while the Rangers were shorthanded.

Defender Patrik Nemeth was a healthy scratch for the first time in this series.

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