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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Igor Shesterkin is a Big Problem for the Florida Panthers




FORT LAUDERDALE — Igor Shesterkin gave up four goals to the Panthers on Sunday, but the New York Rangers goalie, once again, was his team’s best player.

Shesterkin gave up two goals in the third, one coach Peter Laviolette described as “being under siege’’ with the Panthers throwing everything they had against the Rangers in that period.

Florida got two goals to tie the score and force overtime, but as has been the case throughout these playoffs, Shesterkin rose to the occasion when it mattered most.

“He is a good goalie, one of the top goalies in the league for a reason,’’ Sam Bennett said on Monday. “It is going to be a challenge. We know we have to get more pucks to the net, more traffic to the net. That’s how we’re going to find success.”

Getting pucks to the net, honestly, was not Florida’s problem.

The Panthers took 37 shots on goal in the 5-4 overtime loss on Sunday, a loss which put them down 2-1 in this Eastern Conference final.

Florida also held an eye-popping 108-43 advantage on shot attempts — a combination of shots on goal, missed shots at the net and blocked shots.

The Rangers sold out defensively, blocking a whopping 37 shots on Sunday.

That certainly helps a goalie — and can frustrate an opposing coach.

“Lord knows, we left most of our offense off shin pads or wide of the post,” Paul Maurice lamented.

The Panthers were able to find their way around Shesterkin on Sunday, Sam Reinhart roofing a backhander on the power play in the first; Sasha Barkov got in one down low in the third to make it 4-3 before Gus Forsling ripped one from the left circle to tie it at 4.

“He came out pretty far, I saw an opening and tried to get it over his shoulder or his glove,’’ Forsling said. “He usually attacks pretty well, I was just trying to get it by him. It was a big goal, we got the crowd with us. Got a good roll going. That was pretty exciting.”

It was.

It was also the final time Florida got one past Shesterkin.

To paraphrase Maurice, Lord knows they tried.

On Monday, the Panthers talked a lot about the New York goalie with much of the conversation involving creating more traffic around the net.

It’s hard to block shots with your shin pads down low. With your stick, perhaps.

“I think you have to get the puck to the net,’’ said Vladimir Tarasenko, “but also have to stay in front of him and make it hard for him to make the saves. In that front area, you have a better chance to get a rebound.

“You know what kind of goalie he is, but … with good goalies you have to create traffic. Make their lives harder. Get pucks to the net, even if it doesn’t go in, you have people in front of him with a first and second layer to make it harder on him.”

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Rangers Lead Best-of-7 Series 2-1
  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ESPN
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @New York 0; Game 2: @New York 2, Florida 1 OT; Game 3: New York at Florida, Sunday; Game 4: New York at Florida, Tuesday 8 (ESPN): Game 5: Florida at New York, Thursday 8 (ESPN); Game 6*: New York at Florida, Saturday June 1, 8 (ABC); Game 7*: Florida at New York, Monday June 3, 8 (ESPN). (*) — If Necessary.
  • How They Got Here: Florida d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2; Rangers d. Washington 4-0, Carolina 4-2.
  • Last Season vs. Rangers — Regular Season: Rangers won 3-0
  • This Season (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 4 Rangers 3 (Dec. 29). At MSG: Panthers 4, Rangers 2 (March 4); Rangers 4, Panthers 3 OT (March 23).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Rangers lead 61-34-8, 6 ties
  • Postseason History: Rangers Lead 1-0 (1997 1st)

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