Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers tends goal against the Florida...

Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers tends goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday in Sunrise, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

SUNRISE, Fla. — Mike Richter and Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ two previous star goaltenders, were open books.

They stopped pucks, then spoke expansively about the experience for the benefit of journalists and fans.

Igor Shesterkin is more of a mystery.

This is in part because of the language barrier for the Russian — although his English is better than ever — and in part because of his more guarded personality.

But this much we know through five NHL seasons and now two long playoff runs: The guy is a cool customer, on and off the ice. He played great again Tuesday night, stopping 37 shots in the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime loss.

Sure, he has his feisty moments, taking the occasional swing with a stick or arm at an opponent who angers him in his crease. But he is cool in the ways that matter.

On the ice, he rarely gives up many goals, but even on a night when he gave up four in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, he can shrug that off.

When the Panthers scored two goals early in the third period to tie that game at 4-4, Shesterkin held firm through the rest of that period and into overtime in the face of a relentless Florida assault. The Rangers won, 5-4.

Through the first 13 playoff games, he had a .925 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average.

Off the ice, Shesterkin has appeared unfazed by the pressure or attention, as evidenced by his playful session with reporters on the off day between Games 3 and 4 at Amerant Bank Arena.

When someone asked about Panthers agitator Matthew Tkachuk getting close and saying something in Game 3, Shesterkin cracked, “I’m lucky, because I don’t speak English.”

The question and answer both were in English.

How did he feel about being under siege for most of the third period?

“I just try to be ready for everything,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many shots or how many shot attempts they try to do.”

What about feeling the pressure of being this deep into the playoffs?

“Honestly, I just try to enjoy it,” he said.

Teammates have started to tire of answering Shesterkin questions, not because he does not warrant gushing answers but because their answers are repetitive.

The guy is good. What else is there to say?

The Rangers do consistently reference Shesterkin as a creature of routine and focused quietude.

Coach Peter Laviolette said on Monday, “He’s quiet. He’s pretty methodical about his preparation and how he goes about his business on a day-to-day basis. I think he’s a true professional in his own way.

“Everybody does it differently. But for me he has a routine . . . He’s got a pretty even-keel demeanor and his focus is really good. There’s nothing that jumps out at me other than that he’s in business mode right now.”

Said Vincent Trocheck, “He’s not going to be, like, goofing around in the locker room before games. But it’s not like you have to stay away from him . . . I think he means business.

“He’s always pretty focused and brings the same routine every day and the same kind of demeanor.”

Shesterkin, 28, has had some ups and downs since his breakout season of 2021-22, but during the playoffs he has continued to ride his late-season upswing.

The Hurricanes and Panthers have spent the past two rounds firing pucks at him from every direction, consistently outshooting the Rangers, with limited luck.

Entering Game 4, Shesterkin was six victories away from doing something no one alive other than Richter has: Win a Cup in goal for the Rangers.

It remains to be seen whether he gets there, but if he does not it will not be from wilting under the pressure.

Laviolette said that Game 3 might have been Shesterkin’s best game yet in these playoffs despite the four goals allowed.

“We needed our goaltender (in the third period), and I thought he was excellent,” the coach said.

Shesterkin said he has no trouble putting behind him pucks that get behind him.

“Give up a goal, it already happened,” he said, “You need to be focused on next shot and try to stop this next shot.”

No need to make it more complicated than that.


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