ST. PAUL, Minn. — Igor Shesterkin is the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie, coach David Quinn said at Thursday’s morning skate, but a tender left ankle, the result of a collision with Winnipeg forward Andrew Copp on Tuesday, kept him out of the lineup Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.
Alexandar Georgiev got the start in goal against the Wild, and he was more than solid in leading the Rangers to a 4-3 shootout win that extended their winning streak to three games.
The Rangers trailed 3-1 entering the third period before goals by Pavel Buchnevich at 11:51 and Mika Zibanejad at 18:54 off a pass from Artemi Panarin forced overtime.
In the overtime, Georgiev (23 saves) made three huge stops on Minnesota forward Kevin Fiala — one with 2:22 left and two more in the final 30 seconds — to get the game to the shootout.
Then Zibanejad and Panarin scored, Georgiev stopped Ryan Donato’s attempt and Zach Parise’s shot went off the crossbar and out to give the Rangers the victory.
“There sure was no quit on us tonight, in a frustrating game for a lot of reasons,’’ Quinn said. “[The Wild] do a great job defending; they really defend the middle of the rink really well. And we just stuck to it. We just never, never quit and we’ve been talking about [how] the belief we have in each other continues to grow [this] season. And it was never more evident than it was tonight.’’
The Rangers are nine points behind the Flyers and Blue Jackets, who hold the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots. They will play Columbus on Friday night in the finale of the three-game road trip.
While the odds are stacked against them making the playoffs, the Rangers (29-23-4) are still fighting desperately to find a way to get in.
Immediately after the game, their thoughts shifted to the Blue Jackets.
“We’re aware of our situation,’’ center Ryan Strome said. “It’s 10 days to the trade deadline as of [Friday], and obviously, the playoffs looming and where we are in the standings — and we’re playing a team [Friday] we’re chasing. It’s a big game for us.’’
Jonas Brodin’s goal with 3:17 left in the first period and Jordan Greenway’s goal with 2:07 remaining in the second gave the Wild a 3-1 lead. But the Rangers swore there was no panic on their bench as the third period wore on.
“Honestly, it was just calm,’’ Strome said. “Our team’s come a long way. Before, you might have seen some panic and some frustration, but I thought, for the most part in that third period, we were calm on the bench.
“We were positive. We said, ‘Get one, find a way,’ and we did.’’
Buchnevich tried to send a cross-ice pass to Tony DeAngelo on a rush and the puck pinballed off two Wild players and in to get them within 3-2.
Then, with Georgiev off in favor of an extra skater, Zibanejad drove the net and reached out to barely get a stick on Panarin’s pass. The puck somehow deflected off his stick and slid inside the post for his 24th goal.
“I didn’t even know if it was going to make it to the net, to be honest with you,’’ Zibanejad said. “It was a hard pass and I just tried to redirect it. I don’t think [Wild goalie Alex Stalock] saw it.’’
Donato’s backhand goal had opened the scoring at 9:49 of the first period, but Panarin tied it at 1 at 11:52 with his 29th goal.
DeAngelo picked up his 30th assist on the goal and Strome recorded his 35th assist.