Gallant defends hooking Shesterkin in Rangers loss as Penguins go 2-1 up

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New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant has defended his call to pull goaltender Igor Shesterkin after the first period as Pittsburgh Penguins ran out to a 7-4 victory in Game 3.

The visitors suffered a playoffs setback at PPG Paints Arena, as their Pennsylvanian hosts moved into a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

Shesterkin was hooked after the first period after Pittsburgh raced into a 4-1 lead and was replaced by Alexandar Georgiev.

That helped spark a turnaround for the Rangers, who clawed back three goals in the second period to move back on level terms.

But after Danton Heinen put the Penguins back in front halfway through the third period, Pittsburgh did not relinquish their lead again, with Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter extending their advantage.

Gallant backed his decision to withdraw Shesterkin, a 2018 Olympic gold medallist, saying that it was to offer the goaltender much-needed rest after a busy schedule and thought it might provide a spark.

"It's 4-1 and you want to change momentum," he stated. "Igor has been outstanding.

"If you look at it right now, he's played 10 periods, more or less, in basically 4 and half, five days. I thought it was a good time to jump-start it.

"It was 4-1. It was totally tilted. Sometimes you spark your team with a goalie change. Igor was our MVP all season.

"I thought we'd give him a little rest tonight and hopefully spark our team. And it worked."

The Rangers will attempt to hit back in Game 4 on Monday.

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