This is a classic case of hockey karma.
New York Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin has struggled against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh has taken a 3-1 series lead over New York despite being the underdog in the series.
The Penguins won 7-2 in Game 4 on Monday to push the Rangers to the brink of elimination. Rangers’ goalie Igor Shesterkin was pulled for the second consecutive game. Shesterkin gave up six goals on 30 shots in Game 4 after allowing four goals on 15 shots in Game 3.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 8, 2022
Shesterkin’s playoff struggles against Pittsburgh come after he shutout the Penguins in the final regular-season meeting back in April. Things got chippy at the end of the game as a melee broke out at the buzzer. Feeling confident after his performance, Shesterkin waved the Penguins team goodbye off the ice.
Igor Shesterkin waving goodbye to the Penguins 😂👋 pic.twitter.com/27O7ZqecFs
— Gino Hard (@Ginohard_) April 8, 2022
Pittsburgh fans clearly remember Shesterkin’s funny gesture from a month ago. After the Rangers pulled Shesterkin in Game 4, Penguins fans at PPG Paints Arena started chanting “We want Igor!”. Even though Igor is one of the NHL’s best goalies, Penguins fans are now confident their team can score on him.
The Pittsburgh players also don’t forget Shesterkin’s wave to them in the regular season. Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin was asked early in the series what makes Shesterkin special. Instead of taking the opportunity to compliment Shesterkin, Malkin replied, “I’m not a goalie coach. I have no idea.”
Shesterkin is going to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, but he’s hasn’t been able to carryover his strong regular-season play into the postseason. The Russian netminder posted an outstanding .936 save percentage in the regular season but has a save percentage below .900 in the postseason.
Shesterkin certainly isn’t the sole reason the Rangers are losing to the Penguins, but he hasn’t been to bail out his defense like he did in the regular season. Shesterkin had an incredible 79-save performance in Game 1, so it’s possible he’s battling fatigue.
While we love the personality from Shesterkin to wave Pittsburgh goodbye, it’s funny to see karma take its natural course. Shesterkin’s wave to Pittsburgh in the regular season likely served as bulletin board material for the Penguins in their playoff series.