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Igor Shesterkin leaves with injury in Rangers' win over Columbus but seems OK

New York Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth, right, checks

New York Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth, right, checks Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier into Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.  Credit: AP/Paul Vernon

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In recent days, the Rangers have been dutiful in talking about how they appreciate their pretty record but don’t really deserve it, and how grateful they are to goaltender Igor Shesterkin for being the main reason they have a winning record in the first place.

So late in Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jackets, when they saw Shesterkin lying face down on the ice, it was a scary time for the Rangers.

Fortunately, coach Gerard Gallant was able to report afterward that Shesterkin, who left after getting run into by Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier, is OK.

"He’s fine,’’ Gallant said. "He could have come back. He had to do the mandatory whatever, 10 or 12 minutes, but he was ready to come back.’’

He didn’t, though, and backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev had to play the final 6:45. Georgiev made two saves as the Rangers completed a 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets for their second straight win overall and second this season over Columbus.

According to Gallant, Shesterkin (31 saves) is healthy enough that if the coach chooses to go that way, he could start Sunday night when the Rangers host the Devils.

And so, with that concern taken care of, the Rangers were free to feel good about their effort in the win.

It was a game they could be proud of as they seized control with three goals in a 63-second span in the second period and more or less shut things down the last 30 minutes or so to up their record to 8-3-3.

Two goals each by former Blue Jacket Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider and one by Jacob Trouba powered the Rangers to the victory.

It was a breakout game for Panarin. He had told reporters on Thursday that he might need to shoot more after recording no shots on goal in the two games before Saturday’s. Against Columbus, he had six shots on goal plus another that was blocked and four more that were wide or high.

"I was feeling it tonight,’’ Panarin said in a postgame interview in English. "Maybe because it was Columbus, my old team, I tried to score. That’s why I shot [so much].’’

He was laughing when he said it, but then he got serious when he said, "But maybe I need to keep this.’’

The Blue Jackets scored first on a power-play goal by Jakub Voracek at 8:59 of the first period before Panarin tied it at 17:29. After Eric Robinson scored at 6:56 of the second to give Columbus a 2-1 lead, Kreider scored on a pass from Trouba to tie it at 2 at 7:39.

Panarin scored his second goal at 8:15, whipping a wrist shot over goalie Elvis Merzlikins’ right shoulder to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Trouba followed with his first goal of the season to make it 4-2 at 8:42.

Kreider scored on a power play 52 seconds into the third period, but Texier tipped in a shot from Vladislav Gavrikov on the play in which he ran over Shesterkin. He was battling with Rangers defenseman Patrik Nemeth and may have been pushed into Shesterkin by Nemeth.

Kreider didn’t get a good look at the play, but he reacted by jumping on top of Texier and asking questions later.

"I don’t know if he got pushed [or if] he didn’t get pushed,’’ Kreider said. "I just saw the goalie on the ice and I saw someone laying down relatively close to him and just reacted, I guess.’’

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