New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin etched his name in the history books with a team-record 79 saves Tuesday night. But it wasn't a positive outcome for Shesterkin, as his superhuman performance came in a losing effort. The Rangers fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in triple overtime in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Shesterkin's 79 saves topped Gump Worsley's previous Rangers record of 56 saves, which came against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the 1962 Stanley Cup semifinals. Looking outside of the Rangers, Shesterkin put together the second-most saves in a Stanley Cup playoff game, behind only Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who recorded 85 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying round in the bubble in 2020.
Like Shesterkin, Korpisalo's record-breaking performance ended with a loss for his team.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin ended up recording the game-winning goal on a deflection that got past Shesterkin in the third overtime period. Throughout the three overtime periods, Shesterkin made a whopping 35 saves after stopping 44 shots in regulation. Shesterkin had recorded at least 40 saves on four occasions during the 2021-22 regular season.
"He made everything he had to do and we couldn't get one [goal] for him obviously," Rangers forward Ryan Strome said after the loss. "We know he is going to be good for us every game. It's a strength of our team."
Making this all the more impressive is that it was just Shesterkin's second career postseason start. His only previous playoff start came against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying round in 2020, which resulted in a 4-1 loss.
Shesterkin is widely viewed as the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, honoring the NHL's best goaltender. The Rangers netminder put together a 36-14-4 record in 53 games and led the league with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.
Shesterkin is in just his second season as the Rangers' primary netminder after Henrik Lundqvist left the team. In his three NHL seasons, Shesterkin has accumulated a 62-29-7 record in addition to a 2.31 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. Also notable: The Rangers star keeper only lost back-to-back games once during the regular season, so the Rangers will likely remain confident entering Game 2 of the series vs. the Penguins.