The New York Rangers endured a disastrous first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling behind 4-1 in the opening frame. It was a first period to forget for MVP candidate and superstar goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who surrendered the four goals on just 15 total shots. After the woeful opening period for Shesterkin, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant opted to pull the star goalie, replacing him with Alexandar Georgiev in hopes of shifting the momentum. After the game, Gallant opened up on his decision to replace Shesterkin with Georgiev in Saturday’s Game 3 loss, via ESPN.
“Two of them were lucky bounces. It’s 4-1 and you want to change momentum. Igor has been outstanding — and really, if you look at it right now, he’s played 10 periods, more or less, in basically 4½, five days. I thought it was a good time to jump-start it,” said Gallard via ESPN.
The Rangers and Penguins played a triple-OT thriller in Game 1 of the series, with Shesterkin recording a ridiculous 105 minutes on the ice. It’s clear he wasn’t on his A-game on Saturday, and Gallard feels that fatigue played a factor in that.
“It was 4-1. It was totally tilted. Sometimes you spark your team with a goalie change. Igor was our MVP all season. I thought we’d give him a little rest tonight and hopefully spark our team. And it worked,” Gallant said.
Shesterkin was removed after the first period, and Georgiev entered the cage in his stead. The Rangers staged an impressive comeback, tying the game 4-4 before the Penguins managed to break the deadlock via an unassisted goal from Danton Heinen. The Penguins did not surrender the lead again, winning the game 7-4 via a pair of empty-net goals from Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter late in the game.
Shesterkin will almost certainly be back in his starting role for Game 4, and with the Rangers trailing 2-1 in the series, he’ll need to put in a much better shift than what we saw from him on Saturday to avoid going down 3-1.