For the 12th time this season, the New York Rangers gave up the game’s first goal and came back to win despite Igor Shesterkin making a brief departure and reappearance in the, 2-1, shootout victory over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Shesterkin (23-5-2, 2.05 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in 30 games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots faced and may have been a bit overdramatic in incidental contact that yielded a goaltender interference penalty, as well as a roughing minor about midway through overtime– necessitating the use of Alexandar Georgiev (7-7-2, 2.99 goals-against average, .898 save percentage in 20 games played) before Shesterkin could return for the shootout for no decision in about 41 seconds of playing time.
Did you get that? Shesterkin played all but 41 seconds on Tuesday night in the shootout victory and Georgiev’s brief appearance yielded no shots faced in the dying 41 seconds of overtime.
Apparently, there’s no strict adherence to the “15-minute rule” if a concussion spotter rules you out of a game for a checkup after regulation.
Anyway, Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (9-7-3, 2.15 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 20 games played), made 33 saves on 34 shots against in the shootout loss.
Boston fell to 27-16-4 (58 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers, meanwhile, improved to 31-13-4 (66 points) overall and in control of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division– one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for 2nd and four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the division lead.
Having previously lost, 5-2, on Nov. 26th at TD Garden, the B’s fell to 0-1-1 in their season series against New York with one more regular season matchup remaining on April 23rd in Boston.
Boston went 5-3-0 against the Rangers last season and 3-0-0 against “The Broadway Blueshirts” in 2019-20.
Matt Grzelcyk made his return to the lineup alongside Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pairing after suffering an upper body injury against the Hurricanes on Feb. 10th.
Once again, the Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (upper body), Patrice Bergeron (upper body) and Brad Marchand (suspension) on Tuesday.
Vaakanainen and Bergeron are close to returning, though it may or may not be later this week.
Bergeron has been in a burgundy no-contact practice jersey for the last couple of days and could join the team on Long Island for their matchup with the Islanders on Thursday.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup from Saturday afternoon’s, 2-0, victory in Ottawa to Tuesday night in New York.
Erik Haula took part in his 500th career National Hockey League game, while Mike Reilly participated in his 300th career NHL game.
Bergeron, Jack Ahcan, Vaakanainen, Marchand and Zboril made up the list of injured players and healthy scratches out of the action against the Rangers.
Charlie Coyle capitalized on a turnover in New York’s own zone as the Rangers brought the puck back into their own end inadvertently early in the opening frame.
Coyle setup Craig Smith for a one-timer, but the puck rebounded right in Coyle’s (11) direction for a layup goal while crashing the net– giving Boston a, 1-0, lead at 3:39 of the first period.
Smith (9) had the only assist on the goal.
The two teams then went about eight and a half minutes without a stoppage in the action before the next faceoff.
Neither team could score for the rest of the first period and there were no penalties called, so the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead into the first intermission and outshot the Rangers, 8-2, in the process.
Boston had allowed their fewest shots against in any first period (let alone any period) this season as a result.
Both teams had four blocked shots and two takeaways each, while the two clubs split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, after 20 mintues.
New York led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (16-15) heading into the middle frame, while each team had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.
There were no goals and no penalties in the second period.
Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard. Both teams had 17 shots on net after two periods, despite the Rangers leading in shots on goal in the second period alone, 15-9.
New York led in blocked shots (11-7), giveaways (7-6) and hits (28-22), while Boston held the advantage in takeaways (6-4).
The two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50, and had yet to see any time on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.
Braden Schneider sent an indirect pass off the boards through the neutral zone to Dryden Hunt, who promptly sent the rubber biscuit over to Filip Chytil for a shot on goal.
Chytil (5) followed up on his own rebound and tied the game, 1-1, at 6:45 of the third period.
Hunt (6) and Schneider (3) tallied the assists on Chytil’s goal as the Rangers surged in momentum to start the third period.
Midway through the final frame, K’Andre Miller tripped Coyle and presented the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 11:48 of the third period.
Boston’s power play was powerless as they couldn’t muster anything past Shesterkin– let alone get set up in the attacking zone.
About a minute after Miller was out of the box, Tomáš Nosek and Jacob Trouba cut a rut to their respective penalty boxes as Nosek was guilty of delivering a swift cross check, while Trouba earned a roughing minor for retaliating– this after a Rangers skater perhaps got away with a cross check that set things off– angering Nosek in the process.
The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for two minutes as a result of Nosek and Trouba’s infractions at 14:44 of the third period.
Less than two minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tripped up Miller and yielded a 4-on-3 power play to the Rangers at 16:32.
After 12 seconds of a rare 4-on-3 advantage, New York continued on an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play and failed to convert on the skater advantage.
After 60 minutes of action, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 29-28– including a, 12-11, advantage in the third period alone.
Both teams had 13 blocked shots, eight takeaways and nine giveaways each.
New York led in hits (35-25) and faceoff win% (56-44) heading into overtime.
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the extra frame.
Cassidy sent out Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and McAvoy to start overtime, while Rangers head coach, Gerard Gallant, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox.
About midway into overtime, Smith crashed the net hard despite coming to a stop at the crease and his momentum carried him into Shesterkin sending the Rangers goaltender flying (albeit somewhat under his own volition to draw a penalty).
Alexis Lafrenière took issue with Smith’s hard play and began to go after the Bruins forward– generating a scrum as a result.
Smith was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference, while Lafrenière received a roughing infraction at 2:48 of the overtime period.
The two teams then skated at 3-on-3 for two minutes (you know, as overtime is already) until Smith and Lafrenière returned from the box with seconds left in overtime– rendering it 4-on-4 for about six seconds.
A stoppage with about 40 seconds left in overtime also presented concussion spotters inside Madison Square Garden with the perfect chance to remove Shesterkin from the game– you know, about two minutes after the play in which he could have been injured occured.
Shesterkin slammed his stick against the glass before heading down the tunnel in displeasure, while Georgiev went into the net for New York for a grand total of 41 seconds and faced no shots in that span.
Gallant used his timeout with 6.7 seconds remaining in overtime and a potentially game-clinching attacking zone faceoff, but nothing came of it for the Rangers as time expired and signaled that a shootout would be necessary.
After 65 minutes of action, the score remained tied, 1-1, despite the Rangers amassing a, 34-32, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 6-3, advantage in overtime alone.
Both teams had 13 blocked shots and 10 giveaways each, while New York also led in hits (36-25) and faceoff win% (55-45).
Shesterkin emerged from the tunnel (“15-minute rule” be damned) and returned to the net for New York in the shootout as Gallant elected to have the home team Rangers shoot second.
DeBrusk led Boston’s first shootout attempt with a burst of speed heading towards the net and sent a shot past Shesterkin on the glove side– upper-90– ringing the iron before hitting the twine.
Zibanejad responded with a serpentine route into the zone before tucking the puck around Swayman as the Bruins goaltender overcommitted on the sell job.
After one round of the shootout, the score reflected that of the scoreboard itself, 1-1.
David Pastrnak took his time, skated wide and sent a shot off of Shesterkin’s glove to kick things off for each team’s second attempt.
Artemi Panarin tried his hand at emulating Zibanejad’s shootout goal, fake a shot and went backhand around Swayman to give the Rangers a, 2-1, advantage in the shootout.
Coyle had to score to prolong the skills competition and did just that after taking his time and burying a shot under the bar over Shesterkin’s glove side.
Gallant sent out Lafrenière to try to seal the deal, but the 2020 1st overall pick skated right down the middle of the ice and had his backhand shot denied by the Boston netminder.
Haula skated right down the middle lane and sent a shot off of Shesterkin’s leg pad without difficulty.
Fox entered the fourth round of the shootout for the Rangers wide from the right side before trying to pump fake Swayman with a deke before losing the puck on an aggressive poke check from the Boston goaltender.
Taylor Hall kicked off the fifth round of the shootout with a forehand shot off of Shesterkin’s glove.
Ryan Strome countered with a wide left approach to the slot before missing the net entirely.
Not to be outdone, McAvoy sent an attempt wide on the stick side from a backhand.
Kreider then lost the puck intentionally while trying to slip the rubber biscuit through the five-hole, but Swayman made the routine save.
Trent Frederic entered from the left side and sent a shot right at Shesterkin’s five-hole.
Chytil was then denied on after entering from the right side and trying his hand at Peter Forsberg’s patented postage stamp move, but Swayman made the save.
In the eighth round of the shootout, Cassidy sent Nick Foligno to center ice to try to put Boston ahead, but No. 17 in black and gold fired a shot right at the New York netminder from his off side.
Hunt then skated into the zone wide left, deked and was denied by Swayman.
Smith sped into the offensive zone before coming to a glide and sending a shot from the slot that Shesterkin made a routine save on to kick things off in the ninth round of the shootout.
Finally, the 18th shooter overall, Miller entered wide on the right side before deking and scoring on Swayman’s right pad to give the Rangers a, 3-2, advantage in the shootout and a, 2-1, shootout victory overall against the Bruins.
New York took home the shootout win, earned the extra point and improved to 4-1 in shootouts this season (5-4 past regulation), while Boston fell to 1-2 in shootouts in 2021-22 (3-4 past regulation overall).
The B’s fell to 18-6-1 (9-2-1 on the road) when scoring first, 17-1-1 (9-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 18-1-2 (12-0-2 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.
The Rangers improved to 12-10-2 (6-3-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 9-7-2 (5-1-2 at home) when trailing after one and 3-11-0 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.
The Bruins swing by the New York Islanders on Thursday before wrapping up their four-game road trip (1-0-1) against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 21st for a matinée matchup before heading back out on the road in Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to close out the month of February. The B’s open the month of March in Anaheim before venturing to Vegas and Columbus.