NEW YORK — New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin did it all in Saturday’s Game 6 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Not only did he make 37 saves, he had as many assists as his opponents had goals at Madison Square Garden.
“Tonight was an important game. We had to win and that’s exactly what we did,” the netminder said through an interpreter after New York’s 5-2 win, forcing a Game 7 on Monday night back in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Shesterkin has a .926 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against average in 13 playoff games, and is now 6-1 at Madison Square Garden with a .949 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average.
But it was his unexpected offense that highlighted his Game 6 win. He assisted on Mike Zibanejad’s first-period power-play goal, his second assist of the playoffs. He notched his third postseason assist on Filip Chytil‘s second-period goal that extended the Rangers’ lead to 4-1.
“Honestly, I think it was mostly the guys who did all the work,” Shesterkin said. “I just left them the puck and they delivered.”
In the win, he became the first Rangers goaltender with two or more assists in any regular season or postseason game since Mike Richter had two helpers in an October 1992 contest against the Quebec Nordiques.
“Honestly, it’s always great to have a goalie whose next step is to start scoring goals,” Rangers winger Artemi Panarin joked.
Coach Gerard Gallant said the two assists were “huge” for the Rangers. “I think he was trying to get three there in the third period when he passed it up the middle,” he said.
Shesterkin also made some key saves in the game, including 15 stops in the first period. That included a save on a Sebastian Aho breakaway and then another on a Teuvo Teravainen follow-up shot. Forward Tyler Motte rushed the other way and sent an unscreened shot from between the tops of the circles that squirted through Raanta for an unassisted goal and the lead at 12:38.
“I just managed to predict (Aho’s) move there. The goal after that really, really motivated me,” Shesterkin said.
The Rangers goalie hit the scoresheet in another unexpected way in Game 6: He picked up an interference penalty in the second period, colliding with Carolina forward Seth Jarvis near the Rangers’ net. New York would kill off that power play, as they did all three Hurricanes’ power plays on the night.
“When he took his penalty, we were so tired in our own zone at that time he probably wanted to get a whistle more than anything,” Gallant said.
Shesterkin said the penalty was his mistake. “I shouldn’t have gone that far,” he said. “To be honest, he was a bit on the smaller side. If he had been bigger, I would have probably been the one that fell over.”
Shesterkin has yet to win in Raleigh this series. But on Saturday night, he did everything he could, to ensure the Rangers had at least a chance to win and advance in Carolina.