Igor Shesterkin stops 30 shots, Rangers blank Penguins


NEW YORK – Frank Vatrano and Artemi Panarin scored in the second period, Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 shots for his fourth break of the season, and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night.

Dryden Hunt added a goal to the empty net in the last minute, and Mika Zibanejad had two assists for New York, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games – including three wins against Pittsburgh.

“We played this team very well,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “This is another springboard for us.”

With Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby getting a late scratch due to a disease other than COVID-19, the Penguins staged a gentle attack on the Rangers, who also beat their rivals in the division 5-1 at Madison Square Garden on March 25 and 3-2 in Pittsburgh on 29 March. .

“Their goalkeeper did a good job at key moments,” said Penguins defender Chris Letang. “It was a tight game tonight.”

Tristan Jarry has had 21 saves for Pittsburgh, who have lost four of five and are 2-5-1 in the last eight.

“I thought our team was competing hard,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “We played a lot of good hockey this year. We believe in this group. We have to keep sticking to it.”

The Rangers are approaching their first playoff playoff since 2017, moving six points ahead of the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division – and a home ice advantage in the first round – with 10 games left.

“This is a great win in all rounds,” Vatrano said. who continued to excel at the top of Rangers with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. “It was a kind of playoff game. We put pressure on their defense.”

The Rangers will face the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs if the teams stay in the standings. Jarry welcomed that opportunity for the postseason.

“We played with an exhausted lineup almost every time against them,” Jarry said. “Some guys are coming back to add our lineup and help us. I think it’s going to be a good match.”

After the last buzz, the teams embarked on a short get-together on the central ice after a few races along the boards.

“Think about it a little bit,” Vatrano said of the potential clash in the playoffs between the teams. “No matter who we play for, we will be ready, the playoffs are a different animal.”

Rangers have improved on 23-7-4 at home with a score of 10-3-2 in the last 15 games on Garden Ice. They scored 98 points for the 11th time in the history of the franchise and for the first time since 2016-17. It was also the fourth time that New York has 46 or more wins in 72 games. This was achieved in 1971-72, 1972-73 and 2014-15.

Shesterkin had nine saves in the first period, eight in the second and 13 in the third to improve on 33-10-4. The Russian goalkeeper has 33 wins related to third place in the league, and his break was the first since January 13 in San Jose.

After the game, Panarin joked that Shesterkin did everything for the Rangers this season, except that he scored a goal from his wing.

“If he had learned and how to guess, I think he really would have been there,” Panarin said through an interpreter, with Shesterkin sitting to his right and also laughing. “But now we’re going to keep him on the pay he has.”

After the first without any events, Vatrano opened the scoring 24 seconds in the middle, throwing a loose puck to Jarry.

Zibanejad and Kreider have assisted Vatran’s 16th goal of the season and his sixth in 12 games since joining the Rangers in a trade with Florida last month. Vatrano has scored in six of its last eight games, including five goals. Zibanejad has scored points in eight of his last 11 games, and his 46 assists are a career record.

Panarin – who played his 500th NHL game – scored 2-0 at 9:47, throwing a puck over Jarry from high ground for his 20th goal of the campaign. Panarin has scored 23 points in the last 15 games – five goals and 18 assists.

Andrew Copp had an assist in the game, giving him 10 points in nine games since joining the Rangers in the Winnipeg trade on March 21st.

The Rangers have 17-1-0 when they score their first goal at home, and have improved to 30-9-2 against opponents from the Eastern Conference.

PINGUINS POSTSSESON STREAK

With 92 points, Pittsburgh remains on track to win a playoff spot for the 16th year in a row. Their string of 15 consecutive post-season appearances is the longest active streak among teams in the four major North American professional sports. The last time the Penguins missed the 2005-06 playoffs was Crosby’s new season.

NOTES: Penguins striker Philip Hallander made his NHL debut. The peak of the second round in 2018 had 10 goals and 24 points in 53 games for Wilkes-Barre from the AHL … In addition to Crosby, the Penguins also scratched strikers Jason Zucker and Radima Zoharnu and defender John Marin. … Rangers have scratched strikers Greg McKegg, Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves, plus defensive players Libor Hayek and Justin Brown. … Rangers striker Barclay Goodrow has played his 400th career game.

NEXT

Penguins: Host Washington on Saturday afternoon.

Rangers: Host Ottawa on Saturday night.





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