New York Ranger Coach Gerard Gallant said pulling the star goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin after the first stage in Game 3 against Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night aims to spark up the team and give netminder a break.
Rangers went on to lose the game in Pittsburgh 7-4 and now track the Penguins 2-1 in the first series of their Eastern Conference.
Gallant decided to drag Shesterkin with Rangers to 4-1 after he stopped 11 of 15 shots.
“Two of them were hit back by luck. The score is 4-1 and you want a change of momentum. Igor has been brilliant – and indeed, if you look at it right now, he was playing 10 periods, more or less, basically 4 and a half I think this is a good time to start it,” the coach said.
Rangers responded with three goals in the second half to tie the game before finally faltering.
“The score is 4-1. It’s completely forward. Sometimes you excite your team with a change of goalkeeper. Igor was our MVP the whole season. I think we’ll give him a shot. Get some rest tonight and hopefully spark our team. And it worked out,” Gallant said. Alexander Georgiev made 19 easy but unstoppable saves that sent the Penguins forward Danton Heinen at 11:02 of the third inning gave Pittsburgh the lead it wouldn’t give up.
But Gallant and the Rangers players said the key to Game 3 was not how they ended but how they started.
“I don’t think we’re playing together,” Rangers forward Chris Kreider speak. “Especially at this point in the season, it’s not something you wonder. It’s a matter of working smart, not just hard. It’s been a good learning experience for our team. first stretch for us in the play-offs.”
Gallant said his message after the first period was one of pride.
“Just stay calm and be the man about this. We’re not going to die. We’re not going to sit back and let them keep playing like this with us,” he said. “We went out and fought back in that hockey game.”
The Rangers and Penguins play Game 4 on a Monday night.