New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin injury “not as bad as it looked”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers stops a shot in the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on April 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant hinted that Igor Shesterkin might’ve avoided disaster after a Friday injury.

In a statement that launched a thousand cautious exhales, New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant announced that Igor Shesterkin’s game-ending injury from Friday was “not as bad as it looked”.

Shesterkin was working on a shutout effort against the San Jose Sharks at Madison Square Garden when he was forced to depart with a non-contact injury. The star goaltender was unable to put weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice. Alexandar Georgiev took over the last 14:52 of what became a 1-0 Rangers win, creating the team’s first shared shutout since December 2016.

Gallant offered an optimistic approach after the game, describing the ailment as a “minor lower-body” issue.

“They’re telling me it’s not as bad as it looks,” Gallant said, per Vince Mercogliano of LoHud.com. “The trainer just said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ That’s all he told me.”

Shesterkin has played a major role in the Rangers’ hot start. He has been the winning goaltender in each of the Blueshirts victories during an active five-game streak and has amassed a league-best 13 victories (tied with Jack Campbell of Toronto). His save percentage (.937) and goal against average (2.05) rank third and fifth respectively amongst qualifying goaltenders.

Georgiev, the incumbent backup, is expected to take over in Shesterkin’s wake. Friday marked his first action since Nov. 21, when he was pulled from a start against Buffalo after allowing four goals on 18 shots over two periods (Shesterkin earned the win in a 5-4 final). His nine saves helped the Rangers (15-4-3) seal the deal against San Jose to extend the Eastern Conference’s longest active winning streak (tied with Toronto). Georgiev is in the midst of his fifth season as the Rangers’ primary backup goaltender after joining the organization as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

Though Georgiev has struggled this season (2-1-1, 3.89 GAA), he held down the fort against the Sharks, though he did not earn his first win since Nov. 14’s overtime decision against New Jersey. The Bulgarian-born goaltender was always scheduled to start the Rangers’ Saturday tilt against Chicago (8 p.m. ET, MSG), the second half a back-to-back set at MSG.

Per Mollie Walker of the New York Post, the Rangers have promoted Adam Huska from AHL Hartford to serve as Georgiev’s backup. Hartford is currently in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak-induced pause, one that placed regular goalie Keith Kinkaid in protocols. Huska joined the Rangers as a seventh-round draft pick in 2015 and has earned a 2-3-1 record with a team-best .924 save percentage this AHL season. Morgan Barron is set to return to Hartford in a corresponding move.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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