ST. LOUIS — Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was pulled for the first time since his rookie season Thursday night at Enterprise Center, after giving up four goals on 17 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Blues.
The decision to pull Shesterkin wasn’t so much about his own play, but to put the Rangers in front of him on alert. The defense had more than its fair share of lapses in the lopsided defeat, and head coach Gerard Gallant wanted to remind his players that they can’t let Shesterkin bail them out game after game.
“How many times does he need to do it?” Gallant said after the loss, which dropped the Rangers to 36-17-5. “He had no chance on the first goal, couple of tap-ins, there’s no chance at all so. You get frustrated and you hope you wake your guys up. It didn’t really, but they should be embarrassed a little bit. The way this guy plays for them all year and then they come out tonight and play like that. After a game in Minnesota that we weren’t too good in.”
Shesterkin, whose .765 save percentage on the night was by far his lowest of the season, ultimately finished with 13 saves. Alexandar Georgiev relieved Shesterkin, but the backup goaltender didn’t give the Rangers much relief, allowing two goals on 18 shots.
Much of the Rangers’ success this season has stemmed from the Hart Trophy-worthy play of Shesterkin, who picked up just his seventh loss of the season Thursday. The rest of the NHL knows it, and so do the Rangers.
“That just can’t be our mentality, I don’t think it is, but it can’t be,” Barclay Goodrow said of relying on Shesterkin. “I don’t think we’d be in this spot in the season in the standings if he wasn’t playing as well as he has been. We’ve relied on him a lot of nights and he’s been a rock back there for us. It’s on us as players to do a better job in front of him.”
Jonny Brodzinski and Tim Getting remained in the Rangers’ lineup for a third straight game, while Morgan Barron was once again a healthy scratch.
“Morgan is a good kid,” Gallant said. “He’s developing. He hasn’t played many pro games, he’s worked hard, he’s in great shape. It’s an NHL game. When he’s in there, some shifts are real good and other shifts he look like he’s a little in awe of it. So he’s growing in the game like all the young players do and it takes time. He’ll get another opportunity sooner or later and just keep playing.
“We’re not disappointed in him just because he’s not playing games right now.”
Gettinger moved up to left wing of the third line next to Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier. Brodzinski centered the fourth unit with Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves.