PHILADELPHIA -- David Quinn wanted to hand this game to Igor Shesterkin. The rookie goaltender grabbed the spotlight, too.
Facing a Flyer team that is both further ahead in its preseason schedule and which fielded a lineup that is not far from the finished NHL product, Shesterkin played all 60 minutes or the first time in the Rangers' preseason and turned in his best performance of his short time in a Blueshirt. He stopped 36 Philadelphia shots, many of them of the high-danger variety, in the Blueshirts' 4-1 exhibition loss in Philly.
And now, Quinn said, midway through the preseason schedule, it's time for everybody to take a well-deserved breather, after a long run of Training Camp work days.
"We really haven't had a day off since camp started," Quinn said after the game. "It's time for a day off."
Shesterkin certainly deserves to enjoy his, before he and his teammates reconvene for practice on Monday. Playing his first road game in an NHL rink, the 23-year-old made 10 saves in the opening period and had no chance on the two pucks that got past him -- a pair of goalcrease redirections in the final two minutes of the frame, one off the boot of James van Riemsdyk, the other off the stickblade of Kevin Hayes.
By second intermission he had piled up 30 saves, and his last 90 seconds of that middle period were jaw-dropping: He turned out Joel Farabee on a 2-on-none, then followed that up by thwarting Oscar Lindblom's breakaway just before the horn, which were not the only odd-man rushes he stared down on the night. Philly's Carsen Twarynski had a game-high seven shots on goal, but it took a bat out of mid-air to finally get one past Shesterkin.
"Our goalie was outstanding, that's for sure," Quinn said. "I've always known he's a good goalie, and I loved how he competed, I loved how he was square to the puck, he battled. You don't see a lot of net. I just really liked his game."
"It helps when you're getting saves, and he came through with some big saves," said Adam Fox, who paired with Libor Hajek for the second time this preseason and played 21:07. "You see why he was a highly regarded goalie. I'm definitely happy he was back there for us."
Nick Jones, meanwhile, who has been noticeable throughout his two preseason appearances, scored the Rangers' goal in the third period, a quick-release snipe off the bottom of the crossbar to beat a helpless J.F. Berube.
"There were some guys that did some good things, but they couldn't sustain it. And you could see it," Quinn said, adding that "I think was more mental fatigue than anything else. And also (the Flyers) had a heck of a lineup out there."
So the Rangers will enjoy a rest on Sunday, just after Saturday night's game brought them to the unofficial midpoint of the preseason -- three games down, three to go, and 11 more days until Opening Night arrives, on Oct. 3 at Madison Square Garden.
They'll have their roster pared down to 23 or less before then, but in the meantime, on Saturday night, in contrast to the Flyers -- who head to Europe next week to begin their regular season -- the Rangers continued along with their task of evaluating their Training Camp group in an NHL setting. Ryan Lindgren, who played a strong and physical game on Friday night in Newark, turned in another one on Saturday, leading all Rangers playing 4:40 shorthanded. Lindgren's defense partner, 18-year-old Matthew Robertson, the Rangers' No. 2 pick in June's Draft, was getting a taste of an NHL game for the first time in his life, something he called "a really big night for me."
Lias Andersson, meanwhile, led all forwards with 18:35 on ice, 3:45 of it shorthanded. He had three shots on goal and won eight of 14 faceoffs, including a winning record (4-3) against Claude Giroux, one of the league's top faceoff men.
"I liked his game again tonight," Quinn said of Andersson.
The Head Coach and his players will take a closer look on video, but given the circumstances and the preseason setting, there will be no reason to dwell. "You want to try to forget about it and move on," said Fox, who is tuning up for his first professional season, "but at the same time you want to learn."
"I'm sure there aren't going to be a lot of positive clips in the video," Chris Kreider said, "but I'm not sure you want positive clips this time of year. You want to know what you need to do come Game 1."
Eleven more days until Game 1 arrives. Three more tune-up games between now and then, continuing with a matchup against the Islanders on Tuesday night at the Garden.
First, though, a little well-earned rest.