Following a game in Boston they had no business winning given the effort they put forth, the Edmonton Oilers went into Madison Square Garden and immediately looked like they might repeat that performance. But after a shaky first period, they settled in and managed a close, competitive game against one of the best teams in the East.
Todd McLellan pranked fans early by starting Taylor Hall with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but the rest of the game would see the Kingston Cannonball return to Leon Draisaitl's line, keeping the hot pair together.
The first goal of the game came off Mats Zuccarello's stick as the Rangers' top line took advantage of the Davidson-Gryba pairing. Mostly, it was a wicked accurate shot from the left circle that beat Anders Nilsson top corner. That goal was the only damage done during a period that saw the Oilers outhit, outshot, and outplayed to start their second game of a back-to-back.
Both team's penalty killers had been perfect on the night until Lauri Korpikoski drew a penalty off a great feed from Matt Hendricks that gave him a clear break on Lundqvist. The King was solid on the first shot and the rebound from Hendricks, but would be beat by Hall on the ensuing powerplay off a great cross-ice feed from Draisaitl.
After notching his first NHL assist in Friday's barnburner back in Edmonton, Dylan McIlrath scored his first NHL goal on a set point-shot play following a Rangers' faceoff win shortly after the Hall goal. Close to the end of the second period, Nuge found Eberle all alone heading into the Rangers zone and he beat Lundqvist clean top shelf to tie the game at two.
The real shot-to-the-foot moment for the Oilers came with just under two minutes left in the second as the team received a bench minor for too many men. Rick Nash made them pay for it, scoring the eventual game winning goal to close out the middle frame.
New York gave the Oilers plenty of opportunities with the man advantage in the third—three in the first half—but the good guys failed to tie it up. They went on to kill off a five-on-three following an Anton Lander slash, but couldn't claw their way back.
The shots were just about even at 21-20 a piece, but it was King Henrik who proved the better Swede on the night as he out-duelled Anders Nilsson for the win. The Oilers powerplay was a dismal one for six on a night when penalty trouble should have cost the Rangers. That said, Edmonton took five penalties themselves, and two in the second half of the third stymying their shot at a late comeback.
Of note: Returnee Rob Klinkhammer looked fast in his first game back after missing 21 games with a high-ankle sprain, but Iiro Pakarinen left the game early in the second after blocking a shot and did not return.
Next up, Edmonton heads to Chicago to try and snuff out Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks.