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Alexandar Georgiev helps Rangers win  sixth straight

Coach Gerard Gallant hadn't decided if Alexandar Georgiev

Coach Gerard Gallant hadn't decided if Alexandar Georgiev would play again Wednesday night, when the Rangers return home to Madison Square Garden to host the Colorado Avalanche. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers placed Igor Shesterkin on injured reserve on Saturday, meaning the star goalie will miss at least three games with a right leg injury.

So Alexandar Georgiev, who replaced Shesterkin and finished a shutout win Friday, was thrown right back in the fire Saturday.

Georgiev was up to the task, making 25 saves as the Rangers beat Chicago, 3-2, at the Garden for their sixth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.

Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome each had a goal and two assists. Adam Fox scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as the Rangers won their eighth home game in a row.

Georgiev’s biggest save came when he used his head — literally. He stopped Kirby Dach with his noggin late in the second period to protect a 2-1 lead.

"I felt great to be back in the action," Georgiev told MSG. "Especially in the big moments for the team . . . Huge effort by our team. We were just so clutch. Competing, knowing when to score big goals. Playing great so far."

Said coach Gerard Gallant: "I feel great for Georgie. He’s a big part of our team. There’s 23 guys in our group and they’re all important. He’s a big part of our group."

Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with 23 seconds left in the first period when he poked in a puck in front of the net.

Gallant challenged the goal, saying Kane had received the puck after it was hit by the too-high stick of Brandon Hagel. But the officials disagreed after a brief review and the goal stood.

The Rangers were guilty of sleepwalking through the first period as they were outshot 7-5.

"First period, we made a lot of mistakes," Gallant said. "Neutral zone, we turned the pucks over. I think they had two or three goalposts in the first period. But after that, we played a lot better.’’

The Rangers picked it up in the second period, which was played mostly in front of Chicago backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen, who gave Marc-Andre Fleury a night off.

Strome tied it on the power play at 4:41 when he received a pass from Panarin — who everyone on Chicago expected to shoot — and found the net open.

Fox scored the go-ahead goal with a rebound of a shot by Panarin at 17:25. Fox has a six-game point streak (one goal, eight assists).

Strome and Panarin teamed to make it 3-1 with 5:14 left in the third. Panarin fed a cross-ice pass to Strome, who initially couldn’t get off a shot and passed it back to Panarin, who banged home his seventh goal of the season for his 499th career point.

With Lankinen off for an extra skater and 1:19 left in the third, Alex DeBrincat was credited with an unassisted goal via video replay as the puck trickled behind Georgiev.

Shesterkin left Friday’s 1-0 win over the Sharks at the Garden in the third period, unable to put any pressure on his right leg. He has been the Rangers’ best player this season and one of the best goalies in the league.

With the Rangers in a stretch of eight games in 13 days, the earliest Shesterkin can return is Friday. Will he?

"Who knows?" Gallant said. "But we feel real comfortable he’ll be ready to go in a week."

It’s a chance for Georgiev to turn around what has been a lost season.

"I’m sure he feels that way," Gallant said. "For me, I’m confident in the kid. Shesterkin’s played unbelievable hockey for the first 20-some games and Georgie hadn’t had a whole lot of chances, but again, I’m confident with him going in the net."

With Farmingville native Keith Kinkaid on the COVID-19 list at Hartford (AHL), the Rangers called up his backup, Adam Huska.

Georgiev had struggled this season, bringing a 3.89 goals-against average and an .867 save percentage into Saturday’s game.

"I want to play," he said. "Work hard when I get my chance. Help the team win. That’s all I focus on." With Colin Stephenson

New York Sports