Igor Shesterkin is set to make his 10th start of the season Saturday afternoon, when the Rangers play at Washington.
It’ll be the rookie netminder’s third start in the last four games and his sixth in the last eight, which included a three-game stretch from Feb. 1-8.
Shesterkin currently has a 3-5-1 record with a 2.36 goals against average and a .918 save percentage through 10 games so far this season. He faced the Capitals on Feb. 4, when the Rangers came out on top with a 4-2 victory. That was also Shesterkin’s last win; he picked up losses in his last three appearances.
Head coach David Quinn originally said he planned to alternate between Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, but has since decided to go with the hot hand.
Defenseman K’Andre Miller’s status for Saturday is still up in the air as he continues to work through an undisclosed upper-body injury.
“We’ll know [Saturday] morning about K’Andre,” Quinn said. “He’s been close for a couple days now, so we’ll probably wait to see how he feels.”
The 21-year-old rookie, who quickly solidified himself in the defense’s top-four, has been considered day-to-day and has missed the last two games.
The Rangers’ top scorer, Artemi Panarin, returned to the lineup Thursday night and immediately had an impact on the stagnant offense after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
After being outscored 6-2 in Panarin’s absence, the Rangers were reminded just how much the Russian rocket influences the team’s pace in the 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia — which was decided by Panarin’s snipe past Flyers goaltender Carter Hart in the second round of the shootout.
He led all forwards with 14:49 of ice time, generating a team-high six shots and 10 shot attempts, including two takeaways. Brendan Smith’s go-ahead goal in the third period to make it a 3-2 game wouldn’t have happened without a skillful backhanded pass from Panarin to give the 32-year-old defenseman a wide-open net.
“I actually said to [general manager Jeff Gorton] before the game … ‘You know, Artemi seems like he’s dialed in’ — and he was dialed in [Thursday night],” Quinn said after the win. “He understood the magnitude of the situation we’re in and how badly these two points were needed, and he stepped up big time.”
After his game-winner Thursday, Panarin said he felt better since sitting out two games and that he wanted to “get a feel for the game early on and create offense.” He added there were still aspects of his game he wanted to work on.
“We didn’t have much confidence after the few losses in the past games,” Panarin, who currently leads the Rangers with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), said through a translator. “[Thursday night] we played better and after the second goal against, it was great that the team didn’t give up. It was a big win for us.”