GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The timing of the announcement was a little awkward, given how Monday night had gone for Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers, but the announcement itself was certainly expected: Shesterkin was named Tuesday as one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s best goaltender.
On Monday Shesterkin was pulled from the net for the second straight game as he allowed six goals on 30 shots over two periods in the Rangers’ 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the teams’ first-round playoff series. The loss put the Rangers in a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
But the Vezina goes to the best goalie in the regular season, and Shesterkin led the league in both goals-against average (2.07 per game) and save percentage (.935), while going 36-13-4, with six shutouts.
“I think we all knew that was going to happen, with the year he had,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said of Shesterkin being a finalist. “It's awesome. It's outstanding for him, and we're happy for him, obviously. He had an outstanding year and I fully expect him to win it.’’
The other finalists were Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames (37-15-9, with a 2.22 GAA, .922 save percentage and a league-best nine shutouts) and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators (38-25-3, 2.64, .918, four shutouts).
“I think he'll for sure be the winner of it,’’ defenseman Adam Fox said of Shesterkin. “We've seen it all year. We've talked about it all year. I mean, he kept us in games early in the year we weren't supposed to win, and… you have a lot more confidence when he's in the net that you know, if a mistake happens, he'll have your back. And we're going to have his back a little more now in these next few games, but I can't say enough about the year he's had.’’
Shesterkin was requested by the media attending practice to speak about the announcement, but the team did not make him available.