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Gauthier goal, Shesterkin late save carry Rangers to 2-1 win over Sharks

November 20, 2022, 8:48 PM ET [8 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers nearly played a complete game, putting together 59+ minutes of solid action. Julien Gauthier scored with 6:03 remaining and Adam Fox's empty-net marker gave New York a 2-0 lead. But a late goal and breakdown in the waning seconds of the contest almost cost the team the win. Igor Shesterkin came up big to stone Logan Couture and preserve a 2-1 victory against the Sharks on Saturday.

Game recap:

A few thoughts:
1) Overall, a really good performance. Maybe a little lag in the second, but at no point did you think San Jose was taking over the game. The Rangers - once again - ran into a hot goalie. James Reimer, who was good in San Jose's 3-2 overtime win on October 20, was even better last night, stopping 41 of 42 shots. In addition, New York hit four posts during the contest. 

In yesterday's blog, I discussed the line configuration and my agreement that the Kid Line should remain together. Their performance, despite failing to dent the scoresheet, proved that the choice was wise. Alexis Lafreniere-Filip Chytil-Kakko Kappo generated six scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick, while allowing only one. Of the three, both from the eye test and the advanced metrics, Kakko was the most impressive.

Kakko registered four shots on six attempts while working his way into high-danger areas throughout the night. He will be seeing Reimer in his sleep, as the San Jose netminder robbed him several times, including a handful of sprawling saves. But Kakko's inability to finish has been on display all season - and even prior to that - making his struggles not that surprising.

2) Gauthier - playing in his 10th game since his call up from the AHL - has the one even-strength goal with a beautiful deflection of Jacob Trouba's point shot. By remaining in the lineup last night, as we discussed before, Gauthier cannot be sent down without passing through aivers. His speed, strength and skill, which have been way more on display since this promotion, make it highly unlikely and improbable that he would get exposed to waivers. For now, he is on the fourth line. Despite minimum minutes, he is making his presence felt, a component desperately needed on this team.

3) Artemi Panarin looks lost out there. He did hit the post once, though that is not registered as a shot on goal. With zero shots on net, the Rangers' leading scorer has now gone three straight games without one, four with zero shots 5x5 and nine straight games since Oct. 30 without a goal. The production, when there, has come on the man-advantage, not 5x5.

Prior to the game, Panarin seemed to identify his problem. Despite noting this, he failed again yesterday to put a shot on goal. The lack of chemistry with Vincent Trocheck has been palpable and you have to wonder if a change will be forthcoming shortly if Panarin continues to struggle. This is another reason why I would try Vitali Kravtsov, a healthy scratch yesterday, on a line with him to see if maybe something clicks, unlocking Panarin's game

"I probably have to be closer to the net, that’s a problem,” Panarin told The Post after the Rangers skated Saturday morning at SAP Center. “Taking shots from the blue line, but with my shots, probably not a good chance to score. And that’s why I’m not shooting. If I get closer, which I try to do sometimes. I don’t know, maybe it’s still my bad. I’ve tried to play like [how] I usually play, I don’t know if I have to change something. Maybe a couple steps closer to the net. I want to shoot more and score more.

“But I feel right now like I don’t have [many] chances for I don’t know why, but probably [because] I have to be closer to the net and chances [will come].”

4) Shesterkin finished with 22 saves and just missed out on his second shutout of the season when Couture scored with 15 seconds remaining. Trouba's stick got caught in the net and the Rangers were out-manned down low, allowing Couture to score.  A weird play, but one where more support was needed down low rather than up top. Then, to make matters even more dramatic, San Jose gained the zone with ease and Shesterkin had to stone Couture to preserve the win with 4.4 seconds remaining. Igor wasn't overworked but he had to be good throughout, making several key saves to keep the game scoreless until Gauthier scored.

I still think coach Gerard Gallant goes with Shesterkin on Tuesday against the Kings and Jaroslav Halak on Wednesday versus the Ducks. But i would not be shocked if he changes it up and plays Halak on Tuesday after the mental load Igor was under Saturday. 

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