NEWARK – Alexandar Georgiev had allowed five goals in each of his last two starts and got pulled in one of them, and nearly got pulled in the other, so the 23-year-old Russian probably needed a strong game Saturday and he got it by making 33 saves to earn his third career shutout in the Rangers' 4-0 win over the Devils.
“Yeah, obviously, it feels much better when you don’t play that many games, to get yourself a bit of confidence with a good game,’’ Georgiev said.
“Big,’’ coach David Quinn said of Georgiev’s performance. “When you kill that many penalties, your goalie needs to be good, and he was good when he needed to be, and even some 5-on-5.
“Georgie had a big part in this win today, that’s for sure.’’
Georgiev finds himself in a difficult situation, playing behind Henrik Lundqvist, who has been getting more and more games and playing well. Fellow Russian Igor Shesterkin is playing well at AHL Hartford. The Rangers are going to have to make a decision on Shesterkin, who reportedly has an out clause in his contract to return to Russia after this season if he wants.
There is time pressure working against Georgiev, too. With 54 career NHL appearances, he can still be sent to the minor leagues without having to pass through waivers. Once he appears in his 60th game, then he will have to pass through waivers in order to be sent down, meaning any team could claim him. So if the Rangers want to see Shesterkin at the NHL level, they likely will want to send Georgiev (6-4-1 with a 3.08 goals-against average and .912 save percentage) down before he makes that 60th appearance.
The Rangers had another too-many-men on the ice penalty, but Quinn wasn’t mad at this one. “If we all want to make big deal out of it, we can, I get why,’’ he said. “But that is really a faultless one in a lot of ways. That wasn’t somebody sleeping on the bench, or a bad change. That was a change you see every single game and the puck just happened to hit one of our guys.'' . . . Quinn changed his forward lines, dropping Artemi Panarin to a third line, with Ryan Strome at center and Kaapo Kakko on the right, and dropping Brett Howden to the fourth line. Quinn said Kakko, who had been slumping, played his strongest game in a while . . . Boo Nieves was scratched and may be heading back to AHL Hartford.