36° Good Morning
36° Good Morning

Alexandar Georgiev makes 55 saves as Rangers beat Maple Leafs at Garden

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev keeps his eye on

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev keeps his eye on the puck during the second period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

On his 23rd birthday, Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev gave himself the present he wanted most on Sunday: A 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.

The Bulgarian-born goalie made a career-high 55 saves, the second-most saves in a regular-season game in franchise history. Mike Richter made 59 on Jan. 31, 1991, but that was in a 3-3 overtime tie with the Canucks in Vancouver, so Georgiev owns the record for most saves by a Rangers goalie in regulation and most saves by a Rangers goalie in a game at the Garden.

Asked if he could have had a better birthday, Georgiev deadpanned, “A shutout?’’

But seriously, folks . . .

According to the Rangers’ stats and information Twitter account, Georgiev is the seventh Rangers goalie who has made at least 50 saves in a game since the NHL began tracking the statistic in 1955-56 (Gump Worsley, Jacques Plante, Gilles Villemure, Glen Hanlon, Richter and Henrik Lundqvist are the others).

“What did I get him for his birthday? Nothing yet, but there’s going to be a big gift, soon,’’ coach David Quinn said. “Listen, he played outstanding. He’s gotten better and better.’’

“He was on his game,’’ defenseman Adam McQuaid said. “He made a ton of saves in tight, and he was really quick down low and he bailed us out on a number of occasions, so he deserves a lot of credit.”

McQuaid played a bit part in the win, which allowed the Rangers to close out their season-high five-game homestand with a 2-2-1 record. The stay-at-home defenseman scored his second goal of the season — and second in four games — to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead at 11:59 of the third period after the Leafs spent much of the period throwing the kitchen sink at Georgiev.

Kevin Hayes added an empty-net goal at 19:40 for the Rangers (24-23-8), who were outshot 56-30. The Leafs had 86 shot attempts and the Rangers had 46, according to the league’s official scoresheet.

First-period goals by Mika Zibanejad (at 28 seconds) and Jimmy Vesey (at 14:05) were sandwiched around Kasperi Kapanen’s goal at 10:35 as the Rangers took a 2-1 lead.

Now they will go on the road with a good feeling, thanks to Georgiev, who was born in Bulgaria but grew up in Russia and signed with the Rangers after a tryout in the summer of 2017.

Georgiev, whose previous career high in saves was 43 in a 5-1 win over Buffalo in March 2018, was asked if he had ever played a game like this. “Not in pro hockey, no, I don’t think so,’’ he said.

He said he likes to get a lot of shots (“it’s more fun for a goalie,’’ he said), though he conceded maybe not this many.

Asked if this might have been his best game ever, he said, “I’m not sure. I need to check this one later [on video] to see what happened. But it was one of the nicest performances.’’

The Rangers played with seven defensemen. Neal Pionk returned to the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch. Fourth-line forward Vinni Lettieri was scratched as Quinn decided to go with an 11-forward, seven-defenseman alignment.

It was the fifth time this season that the Rangers have played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, and the previous two times they did it — against the Flyers Jan. 29 (1-0 loss) and the Kings Feb. 4 (4-3 overtime loss) — they didn’t look terribly out of sync. Said Quinn, “I’m getting more comfortable with it, for sure.’’

Notes & quotes: K’Andre Miller, one of the Rangers’ three first-round draft picks last summer, injured his left leg or knee in a crash into the boards Saturday night for Wisconsin against Ohio State. A Rangers spokesman said the team had no report on the injury’s severity.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports