Candre Miller leaned forward in his chair, all his weight on his elbows. Something crossed his face between anger and appreciation.
He said, “I mean, I can’t imagine times people have said nice things about Igor saving us at this point in the year.”
For much of Friday night, it looked as though Match 2 against Lightning wouldn’t be one of those nights for the Rangers. They were controlling the game. Mika Zibanijad’s insurance balance at the start of the third half gave them a two-goal difference. They were on the fast track to winning two games to nothing in the Eastern Conference Final.
Next, Nick Ball scored a 2:02 goal to go third and the same old story was coming up again. The Rangers were asking Igor Shesterkin to win them the match. And Shesterkin was handing over.
Steven Stamkos held it tight with the kind of rescue that almost no one else did, but everyone now expects Shesterkin to do so. Zipanegad removed the disc. Rangers Hold on to the win 3-2.
Next, Miller, from Score a goal to winAfter his 46th win this year, he tried to invent something original to say about the goalkeeper. In Shesterkin’s case, most of the wins were very much his, and with 29 saves, that was it.
“It’s not realistic,” Miller said. “You see it in every game, he has a number of balls saved. Obviously, we trust him a lot and kind of let him do his job. Obviously we try to limit the chances he sees by blocking shots and doing these little things.
“But Shesty’s Shesty. He’ll stop the disc if he sees it.”
Two games in a series billed as a duel between the world’s two best goalkeepers, Shesterkin netted two wins over Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed six goals in the first game on Wednesday night and looked shaky again at times on Friday.
The Rangers seem to have discovered something with Vasilevskiy: his weak point is the very inhibiting aspect. On top of that, Vasilevskiy had moments on Friday when he struggled to suck up the disc; Corey Berry had to throw someone off the line after he went through Vasilevsky’s legs.
Such issues have not affected Shesterkin – at least not since he was benched in Game 4 of the first round against the Penguins. Prior to this series, Vasilevskiy was described as the best goalkeeper on the planet, and although he makes a case otherwise, he is not interested in modifying that opinion.
“Currently I don’t think that’s really important,” Shesterkin said through an interpreter. “I still stick to my opinion that everything was as I said before. Andrei is still the best goalkeeper in the world, and you can’t forget that the series is also [first] To four wins, so you have to keep playing.”
Even if his position does not change, his play makes an argument that words cannot. He is two wins away from putting it in ink.
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