New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev against the Edmonton Oilers...

New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 3, 2022. Credit: Brad Penner

Alexandar Georgiev had not played in goal for the Rangers since Dec. 17 before starting Monday night against the Oilers at the Garden. He showed no rust in making 33 saves in a 4-1 win.

He played so well that by the end of the night, fans chanted his name. "I heard that," he said. "Pretty awesome."

It was a far cry from earlier in the season, when he expressed frustration with his sporadic playing time as Igor Shesterkin solidified his status as the No. 1 goalie.

Georgiev eventually got extended playing time when Shesterkin was injured, but on Dec. 26, he landed on the COVID-19 list, from which he was activated late last week.

"He’s played great," coach Gerard Gallant said. "Just before COVID he was playing great. That’s what I was told in the summertime when I got the job: We have two great goalies. And that’s what I’m seeing."

Georgiev was able to take practice shots before being reactivated to stay sharp, which eased his return. "I’m just glad I got the chance to play a little bit more now," he said. "Things are going well for us defensively. Guys are doing a really good job helping me a lot not to let them have too many secondary scoring chances, not too many rebounds."

Georgiev and his teammates held Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the scoresheet. Georgiev made a glove save on McDavid when the Oiler was alone in front of the net in the third period.

"I just try to be aware of where the other guys are, because I know he’s so dangerous in front of the net," Georgiev said. "But he also sees the ice so well, so you try to anticipate more things from him than maybe another player."

Notes & quotes: D Ryan Lindgren and F Kevin Rooney came back from COVID-19 protocol. The return of Lindgren led to Nils Lundkvist being left out of the defense pairings. Zac Jones and Libor Hajek remained in the lineup. D Patrik Nemeth (non-COVID issue) remained out.

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