Rangers squander Igor Shesterkin’s 29-save gem

Rangers squander Igor Shesterkin’s 29-save gem

Rangers squander Igor Shesterkin’s 29-save gem

SEATTLE — Goaltender Igor Shesterkin pushed the Rangers to at least one point 3-2 overtime loss to the Kraken Thursday night at the Climate Pledge Arena.

The Rangers can’t afford to waste a breakout performance from Shesterkin, who hasn’t been able to produce as consistent an effort as he did to start last season. Shesterkin had been strong sliding through the crease for much of the game until Justin Schultz’s game-winner in overtime. He eventually finished with 29 saves on 32 shots.

“Definitely,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said when asked if his team needed to get two points when Shesterkin is as good as Thursday night. “He was good. He made big saves and key saves, especially in that second period when it was 1-1. He kept us in the game and then we found a way to get a point at the end. But it’s not good enough. We’re better than that.”

Igor Shesterkin saves Daniel Sprong during the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Kracken.

Shesterkin was the only thing standing between the Kraken and a multi-goal middle frame, during which Seattle outscored the visitors 16-5 and controlled the tempo of the game for much of the period. A minute and a half into the half, Shesterkin gloved a hard shot from Schultz before Matty Beniers tapped one off the post. The Russian goalkeeper later denied Daniel Sprong on a breakaway.

After the overtime loss, Shesterkin is now 8-2-3 on the season.

The last time Libor Hajek played that many games in a row was a stretch of nine contests from mid-December to early January last season.

Hajek, who skated in his sixth straight game Thursday night against the Kraken, then sat out 59 of the next 67 games, including all 20 playoff games, in 2021-22. Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant assured Hajek that he will not be subjected to the same limited playing time as last season, and so far the club has kept that promise.

“It’s been a while [since] I’ve played so many games in a row,” Hajek told The Post after the Rangers’ optional morning skate at Climate Pledge Arena. “I’m just trying to enjoy every game. I just think I have to have confidence. Every match has to be good, you know, like consistent. Just working on it and being the best part for the team and helping the team win.”

The 24-year-old defender said he has tried to focus on the small details and keep his game simple, something the coaching staff has asked him to do. In the nine games he’s played so far, Hajek has had a relatively solid game, but Thursday night wasn’t one of his best. Considering how little he played last season, it will likely be a while before Hajek can start making big strides.

“It’s really beneficial for him,” Gallant said of Hajek’s recent stretch of games. “Not great for [Zac Jones]. He gets a chance to run a bit here. He’s played some good, solid hockey, so that’s what you want. These competitions have been held throughout the year. We like them both. We’re happy with our defense, obviously. It is how it is.

“Jonesy will get another chance. When he does, he comes in and plays well and plays solid. He’s a young player.”

Jones was a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game Thursday.

The Rangers fielded the same lineup against the Kraken on Thursday as they did in their 4-1 win over the Coyotes last weekend at Madison Square Garden. … Ryan Reaves was struck out for the sixth time this season and fifth in the last six games.

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