Despite being pulled in back-to-back losses, New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant made it clear Monday he still has faith in goaltender Igor Shesterkin with the team's season on the line.
The 26-year-old allowed six goals on 30 shots before being pulled after the second period of a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4, putting the Rangers in a 3-1 hole heading home for Game 5.
Gallant said after the loss that Shesterkin, who has a 4.26 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in the series, will make his fifth straight start when the series continues Wednesday.
“He’s the best goalie in the league,” Gallant said. "I'm going to go with him."
Shesterkin, the Vezina Trophy favourite, had a 36-13-4 record during the regular season with a .935 save percentage and a 2,07 goals-against average. He stopped 79 shots in the Rangers' Game 1 loss in triple-overtime and stopped 39 of 41 shots in their Game 2 victory. He was, however, pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots in the first period of New York's Game 3 loss.
"He's probably real frustrated," Gallant said of his starting goaltender. "He'll be back in there and he'll be ready to win the next game Wednesday night. I have all the confidence in the world in him.
"It was a tough night for our team and I'm disappointed more in our team than him."
"We weren't playing very good in front of [Shesterkin]," forward Andrew Copp added. "It definitely wasn't on him at all. It's going to be up to every guy in the room to pull together and do what we can to win Game 5."
Alexandar Georgiev allowed two goals on 31 shots over two relief appearances for Shesterkin in Games 3 and 4. He had a 15-10-2 record in the regular season with a .898 save percentage and a 2,92 goals-against average.