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Oilers Win In Captain's Return

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Andrew Ference returned from his three game suspension tonight as the Oilers cruised to their second straight win.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

After directing an astonishing 52 shots on Michal Neuvirth and the Sabres in Buffalo, the Oilers got a day of rest and then headed to New York to take on Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. The home team was on the second night of a back-to-back after losing to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday.

It was an ideal situation for the Oilers, as they look to finally be figuring things out without Taylor "The Beating Heart" Hall in the lineup.

First Period

1:00 Nice back check and takeaway by David Perron in the neutral zone.

1:15 Mark Arcobello picks off a pass deflected by Nail Yakupov. They get a few chances on net off the play.

1:45 Perron makes an unfortunate giveaway as he tries to handle the puck inside his own blue line. It was bouncing a little.  The Rangers fail to make good on the chance.

3:00 Iiro Pakarinen is right there off a Nikita Nikitin point shot but can’t get his stick on the loose puck.

3:19 Unbelievable passing play in tight behind the net by Jordan Eberle to send it to Nugent-Hopkins in the slot. RNH finishes it off. Oilers up 1-0 early. Pouliot made a good play to let the puck go past him to Eberle.

5:15 Nail Yakupov has a nice defensive zone shift, first working in support of Mark Fayne in the corner and then setting up the controlled break out with some poised stick handling and passing down low.

8:00 A few scramble shifts from the Oilers as the Rangers look to establish their cycle in Edmonton’s end.

12:34 Hagelin puts a shot on net and it gets deflected off Boyd Gordon’s stick past Fasth to tie the game. Tough break.

13:40 Fasth stops the initial shot from Zuccarello and holds on with Kreider in the crease.

15:00 Another strong shift from the Oilers' top line, maintaing pressure in the NYR zone and allowing for an offensive zone change. It was a timely one, too, as the Rangers were starting to press after evening the score.

17:00 Sportsnet has the scoring chances at 4-4 at this point in the game.

17:45 Another couple of scoring chances for the RNH line.

19:15 Hayes steals the puck cleanly from Nikitin on the side boards in the Oilers end.

The shot attempts are 19-17 for NYR, but the Oilers have directed more shots on target than the Rangers, leading the way in that category 11-8.

The top line has been very strong, and Henrik Lundqvist has been the Rangers’ only answer to that unit so far tonight.

Second Period

0:33 Jordan Eberle is called for hooking on Brassard, who picked his pocket in the Rangers’ zone. Eberle looked like he was struggling to accelerate on the play.

2:00 Gordon sets up Hendricks for a shorthanded breakaway but he can’t beat the King.

3:00 Aulie makes a nice play in the defensive zone to take out the puck carrier in the corner. This allows Yakupov to create a controlled breakout.

4:00 Draisaitl, Purcell and Pakarinen have a strong shift in the offensive zone on the forecheck and cycle. Reward them with a little more ice time?

5:22 Viktor Fasth comes across the crease to make a nice save on Mats Zuccarello.

8:29 Nugent-Hopkins does the lords work through the neutral zone, picking up his own intercepted pass, entering the zone with control, and then feeding Benoit Pouliot with a perfectly timed pass. Pouliot puts an accurate shot past Lundqvist. Oilers go up 2-1.

9:30 Pakarinen with a giveaway along the sideboards in his own end.

10:19 Pouliot makes a nifty toe drag, sets up Schultz at the goalmouth, but Lundqvist does what he does and absolutely robs him with the glove. Staal is called for tripping on the play, and the Oilers go to the PP.

16:45 Draisaitl with a strong play behind his own net to strip the Rangers player of the puck and get it out to centre. He was bailing out a stickless Schultz on the play.

17:15 A strong forecheck from Jesse Joensuu leads to a period of prolonged pressure for the Gordon line.

18:10 Yakupov steals the puck behind the Rangers’ net and centres it for Benoit Pouliot, who unfortunately had to take it on his backhand.

19:00 Sportsnet has the scoring chances at 12-10 for the Oilers.

19:12 Zuccarello is going off for high sticking RNH. Oilers to the PP.

The Oilers sustained their strong play through the second, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his linemates leading the way. All three of them are close to a 70.00 CF% at 5v5 through two periods.

The Oilers as a team have a CF% of 56.45 through two periods, and are severely outshooting the Rangers 24-14. Henrik Lundqvist is the reason the Oilers aren’t running away with this one after forty minutes, as he’s made some incredible saves on high quality Oilers chances.

Third Period

0:18 Jordan Eberle beats Lundqvist but hits the top of the crossbar off a nice rush on the PP.

3:15 Hendricks shows great speed chasing down a Joensuu chip off the boards. He takes it to the net but can’t get it past Lundqvist.

4:45 Jeff Petry jumps into the rush and gains the zone with control. He proceeds to carry the puck and pass it off, leading to a period of pressure in the Rangers’ zone. Good decision making from Petry there.

6:00 Yakupov intercepts a pass in the offensive zone and rifles one on net. The King barely catches a piece of it with his glove.

11:54 Hayes with a golden chance to tie it up after an egregious giveaway by Jeff Petry. Fasth makes the save. Is he emerging as the Oilers’ best option?

13:15 Yakupov with a great takeaway just inside the Rangers blue. He’s had a strong night, along with Arcobello and Perron. That line deserves a goal.

15:00 No call on an obvious incident of goalie interference perpetrated by Klein. Is there a stat for missed calls in the third at 5v5 close?

15:54 As I finish typing that, Kris Kreider is called for bumping Fasth. I guess he had to lose his mask to get the call. Oilers to the PP late in the third.

18:33 Ference with a strong play to knock over the puck carrier after a Rangers face-off win. Purcell carries it out, passes it off to Hendricks, then gets it back for the empty net goal.

The Oilers finish the game with a CF% of 55.95 at 5v5.

In Conclusion

Henrik Lundqvist threatened to steal one away from Edmonton tonight as he made a few incredible saves against an impressive Oilers team. At the other end, Viktor Fasth furthered his bid for the Oilers starting job with a second straight strong performance. Frankly, I don’t care who starts in net, so long as the team can strike a balance that’s consistent and reliable.

The Oilers improved to 2-2  on their road trip without Hall. Every win they get without their leader is no doubt a gift, and yet, they’ve played well in the last two games. They looked fine against the Bruins as well, but pissed that game away with a few minutes of chaos.

Is this some kind of Eastern Conference illusion, or are the Oilers improving as this season goes on?