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Alexandar Georgiev to get start Wednesday for Rangers vs. Flyers

Alexandar Georgiev of the Rangers reacts after allowing

Alexandar Georgiev of the Rangers reacts after allowing a goal during the first period against the Bruins at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28. Credit: Getty Images/Sarah Stier

When the Rangers practiced on Tuesday, they did not know whether any of the three players (Adam Fox, Pavel Buchnevich and Phil DiGiuseppe) who missed Monday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Philadelphia because they were under COVID-19 protocol would be cleared to play in Wednesday’s St. Patrick’s Day rematch with the Flyers at the Garden.

But they did know that No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin would not be available. Shesterkin, who has missed six games with a groin injury, skated on his own before practice, and coach David Quinn continued to say the 25-year-old Russian is "day to day.’’

So for Wednesday’s game, Quinn had to choose between coming back with Long Islander Keith Kinkaid, who started his second straight game Monday, or giving another chance to his other 25-year-old Russian goalie, Alexandar Georgiev.

He chose Georgiev.

"He's obviously been struggling a little bit,’’ Quinn said of Georgiev, who was pulled from his last two starts. "But Kinkaid's played a lot of hockey in a short period of time,here. So you want to get ‘Georgie’ back in there. We're going to need him.

"But that being said, you’ve got to play well,’’ he warned. "And he's certainly getting to the point where he's gonna -- we've got to make sure that we put the best goalie in there.’’

Georgiev got off to the best possible start when he had a shutout in his first game of the season, the 5-0 win over the Islanders in Game 2. Since then, though, things have not gone well. He was pulled from his second start, against the Devils, and on the season, he has been pulled from four of his 11 starts.

He did have a stretch where he got wins in three straight decisions, but there was one start in that period where he was spared a loss because he had to leave the game to go through concussion protocol and Shesterkin came on and allowed the game-winning goal.

Overall, Georgiev has a 4-4-2 record, with a goals-against average of 3.33, and a save percentage of .887. Entering Tuesday, his GAA was 62nd of 81 goalies who have played at least one game in the NHL this season, and his save percentage was 64th.

But he did lead the Rangers in goaltending appearances (34), and wins (17) in 2019-20, and the Rangers signed him to a two-year, $4.85 million contract in the offseason. And Quinn and goaltending coach Benoit Allaire still believe in his abilities and are trying to do what they can to get him going.

"We know what he's capable of doing, and we know that if we're going to have the success we're capable of having, we need him,’’ Quinn said, adding he doesn’t believe the problem is technical or physical.

"I think it's more the mental piece for him,’’ Quinn said. "And that's something that Georgie has been pretty good at; he's been pretty mentally tough since he's been here. And every player goes through a stretch that maybe they're not at their best, and he's going through that right now. And we're anticipating him getting out of it.’’

Bitetto back. Island Park native Anthony Bitetto, who has missed 10 games with a lower body injury, returned to practice.

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