TAMPA, Fla. — Igor Shesterkin was proper, however was flawed, too.
The Rangers 26-year-old goalie, earlier than the convention remaining started, referred to as his Tampa Bay goaltending counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy the “finest on the planet.”
Vasilevskiy could also be precisely that. However Shesterkin was the perfect goaltender on this collection, regardless of the Lightning eliminating the Rangers 4-2 within the collection after Saturday night time’s 2-1 win at Amalie Enviornment.
Even with the Rangers having taken a shocking 2-0 collection lead, beating Vasilevskiy for 9 objectives on 62 pictures, Shesterkin doubled down and stood by his gaudy praise of the 27-year-old Vasilevskiy.
The Rangers misplaced a sport on Saturday night time and noticed their terrific, revelatory season come to an unceremonious finish, however to be clear: Shesterkin was not the rationale for both of these outcomes.
Shesterkin was the perfect participant on the ice for the Rangers, which he needed to be in the event that they had been going to have any probability to increase their season on this night time. In the long run, after all, it wasn’t sufficient.
Tampa Bay had the higher of play within the first 20 minutes, trying just like the extra determined, hungry crew than the Rangers, who seemed gradual, sluggish and drained by comparability to the Lightning power.
Tampa Bay threw 25 pictures at Shesterkin within the first interval, 11 of which had been on body, and the Rangers goalie let nothing in. He, in truth, made three or 4 saves that a variety of NHL goaltenders may not have made.
Tampa Bay seemed prefer it was poised to take a lead with a minute remaining within the interval when Brandon Hagel related with Anthony Cirelli alone in entrance of Shesterkin. Cirelli made a transfer in entrance to his backhand facet and Shesterkin denied him.
The peppering of Shesterkin began early and it by no means stopped.
4 minutes in, Pat Maroon had a point-blank probability turned apart.
With 8:46 remaining within the first, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, screening Shesterkin in entrance of the crease, practically had a textbook tip-in, however was stoned by the Rangers keeper with a fabulous outstretched kick save along with his left leg.
One of the best save Shesterkin made within the sport got here simply 1:30 into the second interval when Steven Stamkos handed to Nikita Kucherov in entrance and Shesterkin made an acrobatic save sliding to his left and reaching out for the cease.
“He’s a hell of a goalie,’’ Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper instructed ESPN throughout in-game interview within the second interval. “We’ve had our probabilities. We’ve received to remain affected person. We don’t know when the following aim will come.’’
The following aim really got here a short while after Cooper was interviewed — on a Stamkos wrist shot that beat Shesterkin clear below his proper blocker with 9:17 remaining within the second interval. And satirically it might be thought of a nasty aim by Shesterkin’s lofty requirements.
He wasn’t screened, with no Lightning gamers crowding the web like they’d been doing all collection, and with not even a variety of mustard on the shot.
“He made some large saves, however we received one by him,’’ Stamkos stated.
Stamkos omitted a phrase there: Tampa Bay “lastly’’ received one by Shesterkin.
After the Rangers tied it at 1-1, Shesterkin gave up the eventual sport winner to Stamkos when Stamkos shot Shesterkin saved bounced off his leg and went in with 6:32 remaining within the sport and the Rangers’ season.
“His confidence might be the very first thing I seen about him,’’ Rangers middle Andrew Copp had stated earlier than the sport of his goaltender. “He believes he can cease each shot. You see the best way he performs along with his puck dealing with. He offers the crew a variety of confidence again there that, if errors are made, he can bail us out.”
Shesterkin did his half all season. For that, he’ll win the Vezina Trophy as the perfect goalie within the NHL.
He did his half on this collection, proper via Saturday night time’s Lightning onslaught, and was the higher goaltender on this collection.
Halfway via the third interval, the house crowd chanted, “Vasi’s higher.’’
The followers, sniffing the top of the collection and their crew headed to the Stanley Cup Closing, had been delirious in celebration.
Certainly, Vasilevskiy could also be the perfect goalie within the sport. However on this night time, and on this collection, they had been flawed.