Igor Shesterkin brilliant again as Rangers blank Blues, 4-0

In their first game since acquiring three new role players at the NHL trade deadline, the Rangers beat the St. Louis Blues, 4-0, Saturday night behind a sparkling performance from Igor Shesterkin and goals from Vincent Trocheck, Jimmy Vesey, Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko.

The Rangers, who had the sixth-best power-play percentage in the league entering the game, scored three times with a man advantage in front of a sellout crowd of 18,006 at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have now registered points in 15 of their last 18 games, going 13-3-2 over that span.

Two of their new players, forwards Jack Roslovic and Alex Wennberg, skated for the first time as Rangers. Roslovic, acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline, started the game on the top line alongside Mika Zibanejad and Kreider and Wennberg was the third-line center. Both saw brief action on the power play in the first period, too.

Wennberg helped create a power play in the second period when he came in on the rush and induced a hooking penalty, though that man advantage didn’t ultimately result in a Rangers goal. Wennberg was later credited with an assist on Kakko’s goal in the third period. In the third period, Roslovic appeared to hit the crossbar on a power-play shot.

Here are the takeaways…

-The Rangers opened up a 2-0 lead in the first period, scoring a power-play goal with 14:09 remaining when Trocheck, playing in his 700th career game, tipped a shot by Artemi Panarin and the puck caromed off the stick of Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and got past Jordan Binnington.

It was the 23rd goal of the season for Trocheck, eclipsing the 22 he scored last season in his first term with the Rangers.

With 22.8 seconds left in the first, they pushed the advantage to 2-0 on a Vesey goal when the Blues appeared to get caught in a line change. Vesey skated in on a partial breakaway and beat Binnington without being challenged. Barclay Goodrows pass freed Vesey, who scored for the 13th time this year.

-In the third period, Kreider scored his 32nd goal of the season, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. On the power play, Panarin shot wide from the middle and the puck bounced off the boards right to Kreider, who backhanded the puck behind Binnington. Kakko smacked in a rebound with 8:37 left in the third, his eighth goal of the season.

Adam Fox was credited with an assist on Trocheck’s goal, along with Panarin. For Fox, the helper gave him 50 points this season. He is the fifth Ranger to get to that mark this season, which, going into league-wide play Saturday, would tie the Blueshirts for the most 50-point scorers in the NHL. In the third Fox added a second assist, this one on Kreider’s goal.

-In the second period, Matt Rempe appeared to have scored his second career goal off a pretty feed by Goodrow. The puck hit both posts and appeared to cross the goal line on replays shown at the Garden. But the play was reviewed and officials in Toronto deemed that it did not fully cross the goal line, keeping the Ranger lead at 2-0.

-Shesterkin, who was playing in his 200th career game, was sharp all night. In the first period, he made 14 saves, including two highlights: Stopping ex-Ranger Pavel Buchnevich in front on a shorthanded try early in the period and then denying Brandon Saad all alone in front with 4:38 left in the first.

In the second, he stopped seven more shots, including one in which he sprawled to stop Kasperi Kapanen in front. After that one, familiar “I-gor, I-gor” chants rang out of the crowd at the Garden. In the first minute of the third, he made two other difficult saves, including on Buchnevich in front again. At the end of the game, fans chanted his name again. He finished with 26 saves.

Chad Ruhwedel, the depth defenseman the Rangers acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, did not make his Blueshirt debut Saturday night along with Wennberg and Roslovic. Ruhwedel was a scratch, but he’ll likely play soon, considering that captain Jacob Trouba is out two-to-three weeks with a lower-body injury. Saturday, Braden Schneider was paired with Trouba’s usual defense partner, K’Andre Miller.

-The Rangers wore their dark blue third jerseys for the seventh time this season – entering the game they were 5-1 while wearing these alternates. The Rangers have three more games with the third jerseys this season – March 17 and 23 and April 3.


What’s next

The Rangers take on the Devils in a cross-state rivalry on Monday night at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.