GREENBURGH, N.Y. – What do you do for an encore the day after you make 55 saves on your 23rd birthday?
If you’re Rangers backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev, you strap on the equipment again for a noon practice and try to put the backslaps and the compliments behind you before flying to Winnipeg with your teammates to begin a four-game road trip.
"I just think that it’s something that happened yesterday,'' Georgiev said on Monday after practice. “I have to focus on the next game, the next possibility, because you can’t be happy with what happened before that. You have to look forward.”
That doesn’t mean Georgiev’s performance in a 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs at the Garden wasn’t still the talk of the dressing room on Monday.
Georgiev set the franchise records for saves in a regulation game and saves at the Garden. Mike Richter had 59 saves on Jan. 31, 1991, in a 3-3 overtime tie with the Canucks in Vancouver.
Georgiev is the seventh Rangers goalie with at least 50 saves in a game since the NHL began tracking the statistic in 1955-56 (Gump Worsley, Jacques Plante, Gilles Villemure, Glen Hanlon, Richter and Henrik Lundqvist are the others).
Lundqvist, who is expected to start in goal in Winnipeg on Tuesday night, was like a proud papa when he discussed Georgiev’s feat.
“It was a lot of shots,” Lundqvist said. “A lot of big scoring chances, too. He battled really well all night and we somehow found a way. It’s a big night. His birthday and, obviously, that’s a game he’ll remember, for sure. That’s a game where you just know you played a huge part for the team on a special night, as well.”
Lundqvist knows the feeling well. Last March 3, he stopped 50 shots on his 36th birthday in a 3-1 victory over Calgary. It was his second straight game with 50 saves. He’s the only goalie to accomplish that feat since NHL began tracking saves.
There is no goalie controversy in Rangerland, but coach David Quinn is mindful of Georgiev’s improvement this season. Whether that improvement will lead to more regular ice time for the Bulgarian-born goalie remains to be seen, but Quinn has confidence in Georgiev.
“And that confidence is building,” Quinn said. “You’ve seen his development and you’ve seen him playing with more confidence. Twenty-three years old isn’t young in this league anymore, but it’s certainly young for a goalie. I think that position is unique. If you’re a really good 23-year-old defenseman or forward, nobody really blinks. But at that position, it’s pretty young to be in this league. “
Georgiev is young. But that doesn’t mean he didn't feel older than his years Monday.
“A little tired,” he said. “But it’s a good feeling.”
Claesson practices. Fredrik Claesson (shoulder) practiced fully for the first time since getting injured on Jan. 12.