This didn’t work out exactly as Keith Kinkaid hoped, but the keeper played well enough in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh in his first NHL start in 465 days that he could win another one somewhat faster.
In fact, assuming Igor Shesterkin hasn’t fully recovered from the groin strain he suffered last Thursday in New Jersey, it’s possible that Kinkaid will get the call about Alex Georgiev for the second time in a row when the Blueshirts move to Boston for first of two. -Game scheduled on Thursday.
“I was hoping for a break,” Kinkaid said before making 23 saves in his first start since Nov. 30, 2019 as a member of the Canadiens. “You hate to see the way it happened, but I plan to take full control of this opportunity and show that I belong in this league.”
Kinkaid, serene and economical, was sharp throughout. His early hard work allowed the Rangers to first gain balance and then the 1-0 lead as Jack Johnson scored from left spot at 9:16 in the first period as his drive bounced off John Marino’s leg.
But the Blueshirts couldn’t gain momentum from the goal. Rather, the Penguins responded, tying the game at 6:54 p.m. from the first when Jake Guentzel broke one from the left side after Ryan Lindgren broke his stick in an escape attempt.
Teddy Blueger took advantage of the two-on-two coverage confusion to beat K’Andre Miller to the net from the left side before sliding a backhand through Kinkaid for a short goal and a 2-1 lead at 2:40. . Kasperi Kapanen increased the lead to 3-1 at 7:40 p.m. of the period with a snapshot from the slot in an extended turn in which the Penguins possessed the puck below the control marks.
The Blueshirts slashed the margin to 3-2 on Ryan Strome’s power play goal at 3:18 of the third when his pass attempt to Chris Kreider took advantage of, yes, Marino’s skating. And while the Rangers’ third period was the best of the night, they couldn’t generate the tying goal.
Kinkaid, 31, who shares a birthday with George Steinbrenner and Uncle Sam, made 132 starts for the Devils during the five-year stretch from 2014-15 to 2018-19 while compiling an overall record of 64-55-17. with a savings percentage of .906 and 2.90 GAA.
But the keeper’s game went sideways after that, with a 15-18-6 / .891 / 3.36 record the following year, while declining with the appearance of Mackenzie Blackwood. Kinkaid spent much of last season with the AHL after signing during the summer of 2019 as a free agent with Montreal, for whom he started five times in October and November.
The goalkeeper, who hails from Farmingville in Suffolk County, signed a two-year free agent contract with the Rangers on October 9. The Blueshirts wanted a veteran third in the organization, but they also needed a 2021-22 contract goalkeeper who could expose. in Seattle’s next expansion draft to meet league requirements.
“It is an incredible opportunity. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and I feel really ready, ”said Kinkaid, who has spent most of the year in the taxi squad between two victorious outings for the AHL Wolf Pack in which he allowed two goals on 52 shots. “I’ve learned a lot in the last few years and Benny has helped me tremendously on the way here.”
Of course, Kinkaid was referring to Blueshirts goalkeeping coach Benoit Allaire, who has the universal attention and respect of the goalkeepers he has mentored throughout his distinguished career, the last 17 years of which has happened with the organization.
“I don’t think I have been through too much adversity in my career before [2019-20], we’d made the playoffs with the Devils, and I guess you really learn more about yourself and, you know, the ups and downs of the league at that top-tier level all the time, ”Kinkaid said. “I think Benny has definitely helped me technically and with confidence.”
David Quinn reiterated that he had considered going with Kinkaid to start Sunday after Georgiev had been a regular in Saturday’s 6-3 win over the Devils. This, however, was a dunk after the hard work of Kinkaid in 38:50 relief against the Penguins in which he gave up two goals in 18 shots.
“I thought Kinkaid had earned the opportunity,” Quinn said. “He has a good record against Pittsburgh, his game on Sunday, he looks really good in practice and right now, with the Shesty situation or even in general, you need three goalkeepers and not just two because you never know a point of goal. view of the injury.
“So I think it’s important to put him in a game, but not just put him in a game, because he has earned the opportunity. If we didn’t like what we saw, we certainly wouldn’t go back to him. “
No, the question is whether Quinn will return to Kinkaid on Thursday.