CHICAGO — It is Igor Shesterkin’s net once again.
The Russian goaltender will make his first start since Jan. 26 and first since the All-Star break on Friday night against the Blackhawks at United Center, after his backup, Jonathan Quick, backstopped the Rangers to their first three wins in a row since mid-December.
“It was part of the plan,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He had some good practice work with [director of goaltending Benoit Allaire]. What I’m hoping to see from everybody who plays in the game [Friday night], is a good hockey game.
“Looking for our guys, all of our guys, to compete, to play hard and to win a game on the road in Chicago and keep things moving in the right direction.”
There was a plan in place to get Shesterkin some extra work with Allaire coming out of the eight-day break in game action, over which the 28-year-old represented the Rangers, along with Vincent Trocheck and Laviolette, in the NHL’s All-Star Weekend festivities.
It was considered to be a reset for Shesterkin, who went 4-5-1 with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .863 save percentage in his last 10 appearances.
Quick was always penciled in to play against the Avalanche and he ultimately made 32 saves in the Rangers’ 2-1 overtime win.
It earned himself another start against the Lightning, which resulted in a 3-1 victory for the Blueshirts thanks in part to Quick’s 18-save performance.
Entering Friday night’s game, Shesterkin owned a 2.86 GAA and a .899 save percentage on the season.
“I think more than anything he’s helping me, right?” Quick said of Shesterkin. “He’s just such a phenomenal goalie. I learn a lot just from watching him. I’m a big believer in having that relationship with your goalie partner where if I see something I can help him, if he sees something he can help me. I think that goes a long way.
“I think that goes a long way for any position, right? See the centers talking to centers about faceoffs and D partners talking. I feel it’s the same for goalies, too. I think it only helps me and him.”