Nineteen days before the NHL trade deadline, it was Igor Shesterkin, and not Alexandar Georgiev, who got the start in goal for the Rangers Wednesday at the Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And with Georgiev’s name hotly associated with a trade to the Maple Leafs, at the time it probably made sense for Georgiev not to play against what could possibly be his future team.
Then the Maple Leafs announced after their 5-3 loss to the Rangers that they had acquired goaltender Jack Campbell from the L.A. Kings, along with forward Kyle Clifford, in exchange for forward Trevor Moore and a couple of draft picks. So that means Georgiev won’t be going to Toronto, and the Rangers will continue with their three-goalie problem for now.
On Tuesday, Rangers coach David Quinn had said Georgiev might play Friday, when the Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres. Though the coach said that plan could change. Shesterkin played very well Wednesday and made 27 saves, many of them excellent.
Asked if he might consider playing Shesterkin again Friday, Quinn smiled. “It’s a good question,’’ Quinn said. “Listen, this guy [Shesterkin]’s been a very good goalie, and a great goalie, at every level. And he’s not a 20-year-old guy out of junior or college hockey. He’s proven to be a great pro over in Russia; he was a great pro the American League, and he’s been a great pro for us so far.’’
Shesterkin has won four of his five NHL starts.
Kreider returns, Quinn tweaks his lines
Quinn was a little more cagey than normal in his pregame media briefing before the Rangers hosted the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, choosing to say, “We’ll see,’’ several times when asked about his lineup. Left wing Chris Kreider, who had missed Monday’s game with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup, though Quinn initially listed him as a “game-time decision.’’
Kreider scored his 19th of the season late in the first period, just six seconds after Mika Zibanejad's goal, to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead (the franchise record for fastest goals is four seconds).
Quinn, who is normally relaxed about discussing his lineup before games, didn’t want to say whether he would split up center Ryan Strome and left wing Artemi Panarin, or whether he would elevate 18-year-old Kaapo Kakko, who finished Monday’s game on the first line. When the game started, Kreider, who had taken an inadvertent knee to the head from linemate Zibanejad in Saturday’s game, but had practiced Tuesday, was in the lineup, skating in his usual spot on the left of Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. And Strome and Panarin were indeed split up, with Filip Chytil taking Strome’s spot between Panarin and Jesper Fast and Strome playing on a third line between Kakko and Brendan Lemieux.
Quinn tweaked the defense pairs, too, reuniting Brady Skjei with Jacob Trouba and putting rookies Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren back together after two games apart.
Midway through the first period, Quinn began shifting players around, and by the second period, Strome was back with Panarin and Fast and Chytil was between Lemieux and Kakko.
Phillip DiGiuseppe, who impressed in his first game on Monday, got to keep a spot in the lineup even with Kreider returning.
“He had a lot of energy to his game,’’ Quinn said of DiGiuseppe. “He finished his checks; was involved a lot. I liked his game.’’
DiGiuseppe, who had played in Kreider’s spot in Monday’s game, this time was on the fourth line, with Greg McKegg and Brett Howden. Brendan Smith came out of the lineup. Smith, Micheal Haley and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev were the Rangers’ scratches. Igor Shesterkin started in net.