NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 07: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers celebrates his 5-3 victory in his first NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche and is hugged by Artemi Panarin #10 at Madison Square Garden on January 07, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

All eyes were on New York Rangers’ rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin as he made his NHL debut against the dangerous Colorado Avalanche. 

  • New York Rangers 5 (20-18-4, 44 pts)
  • Colorado Avalanche 3 (25-15-4, 54 pts)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Tuesday night featured a game New York Rangers’ fans will never forget. Goaltender Igor Shesterkin made his long-awaited NHL debut. Regardless of the outcome, which no one expected to be pretty against the very dangerous Colorado Avalanche club, everyone was excited for the beginning of the Shesterkin era.

In the end, Shesterkin earned his first career victory in a 5-3 Rangers win.

The rookie impressed from the get-go, playing a huge part in the Rangers’ first threat to score. He played the puck well and was able to get it into Colorado’s zone on a great stretch pass.

Almost five minutes into the first, a screen in front of Shesterkin as well as a deflection allowed J.T. Compher to score.

A bad misplay by Adam Fox allowed the lethal Nathan MacKinnon to score on a breakaway. It was a bad effort by Shesterkin, but fans should not have expected much from him in his debut against a team like the Avalanche.

The Rangers were on the power-play after a holding was called on Joonas Donskoi. A beautiful play in front of the net by Chris Kreider to get Ryan Strome’s shot into the net allowed the Rangers to cut the lead in half.

Jacob Trouba was called for interference, but the Rangers did a good job on the penalty kill. With less than five minutes left, Tony DeAngelo had an impressive shot towards the goal, but Mika Zibanejad made an even better redirection to get the puck into the net.

Ryan Lindgren hit Donskoi and Nazem Kadri instigated a fight with Lindgren thereafter. Both Donskoi and Lindgren left the game, and Kadri was called for misconduct.

Over two minutes into the second, Brett Howden was called for interference against Ian Cole. The Rangers killed the penalty successfully, and the PK was marked by two amazing plays by Zibanejad resulting in breakaways. The Rangers could not score in either attempt, but the effort was there.

Brady Skjei missed a scoring attempt but made up for it quickly. He was able to snipe the puck into the net with 12 minutes left to help the team take the lead.

The Rangers looked much better in the second: they spent much less time in their own zone and created many scoring chances for themselves.

Over nine minutes into the period, a nice play by Andre Burakovsky in front of the net and bad play by Marc Staal allowed Compher to net his second of the night. Howden had a fantastic scoring chance towards the end of the period, but his shot hit the post.

The Rangers deserved to score again and that they did. Artemi Panarin got a shot off and Jesper Fast was alert enough to direct it in Ryan Strome’s direction, who shot it into the net.

The Rangers entered the third period with a 4-3 lead. Shesterkin had not looked spectacular by any means so far, but made two fantastic saves on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tyson Jost, respectively. “Igor” chants erupted at the Garden as Rangers’ fans encouraged their young goalie.

At 6:15, Strome was charged with a tripping penalty. Shesterkin made a great glove save on a shot by Cale Makar during the penalty kill. Howden and Zibanejad did a great job clearing the puck.

Shesterkin began to look much more comfortable as the game went on, especially during the penalty kill. He made three great saves on three shots.

Makar was sent to the penalty box with just over eight minutes left for high-sticking, giving the Rangers a chance to add to their lead. Unfortunately for them, it was not a productive power-play.

After the power play ended, Trouba sniped the puck into the net, but the crowd groaned in disappointment as the referee ruled it offside.

The third period was exciting and fast-paced, but not as eventful as the previous two periods.

Artemi Panarin, The Bread Man T-Shirt

Philipp Grubauer made some really good saves to keep his team alive in the final three minutes. The Avalanche after they emptied their net, but the Rangers’ defense and Shesterkin were able to hold them off. Panarin added the cherry on top with an empty-net goal with 27 seconds left.

It took some time but Shesterkin looked right at home when the third period ended. He played very well and should be even better in the future.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.