Igor Shesterkin stars in return as Rangers blank Sharks

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin returned from COVID-19 protocol to make 37 saves as the New York Rangers defeated the host San Jose Sharks 3-0 Thursday night.

Chris Kreider scored twice, including an empty-netter, and Braden Schneider also tallied in his NHL debut for New York. The Rangers improved to 2-2-0 on their season-high, five-game trip that wraps up Saturday in Philadelphia.

Adin Hill stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Each of those games finished 3-2, with two of them going to overtime. San Jose is 1-1-0 on its four-game homestand, with games Saturday against Pittsburgh and Monday against Los Angeles remaining.

Kreider, who ranks second in the NHL with 12 power-play goals this season, scored the first short-handed marker of his 10-year NHL career at 10:25 of the first period.

Kreider and Mika Zibanejad skated from their own end and picked up steam when reaching the San Jose blue line, turning it into a two-on-one break. Zibanejad fed Kreider in the left faceoff circle, and the winger put a wrister through Hill’s legs, with the goalie getting a piece of the shot before the puck trickled over the goal line.

Adam Fox also got an assist on the goal.

Schneider scored his first career goal at 1:27 of the second period, taking a pass from Ryan Strome in the high slot and putting a wrister past a screened Hill. Filip Chytil also was credited with a helper.

Kreider nearly had another goal on a breakaway in the second period but was thwarted by Hill’s left pad save.

Kreider completed the scoring by tapping the puck into an empty net with 28 seconds remaining, with an assist going to Kevin Rooney.

Shesterkin, who improved to 16-4-2, was making his first appearance since Jan. 2 and hadn’t had a full practice with the Rangers since Jan. 5. After getting activated from the coronavirus list earlier in the day, he logged his third shutout of the season and the fifth of his career.

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