EDMONTON -- One night after a big win against the Vancouver Canucks, the New York Rangers prevailed in a defensive struggle against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Sunday.
Dan Girardi's first-period goal held up as the game-winner in the Rangers' 2-0 victory against the Oilers. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 16 saves to earn his fifth shutout of the season, the 55th of his career.
"We were patient. We felt like they were playing not to make any mistakes and were staying back," Lundqvist said. "They were waiting for us to make mistakes so that they could counter, but we did a good job of playing a smart hockey game. We just stuck with the game plan and let our chances come to us.
"I thought we were the better team the whole game, but at the same time, it was still a one-goal game for most of it."
Carl Hagelin scored into an empty net with less than a minute left to seal New York's third consecutive win. The Rangers are 2-0-0 to begin their four-game road trip; they defeated Vancouver 5-1 on Saturday.
"We were playing back-to-back and we got in fairly late [Saturday] night," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "We did what we had to do to win a road game. We had to make high-percentage plays. We got the lead in the first, and when we made a couple of mistakes, our goaltender made the saves he had to make."
Goalie Ben Scrivens made 20 saves for the Oilers, who have lost four straight games and 15 of their past 16. It was the fourth time the Oilers have been shut out through 31 games.
Edmonton has scored 65 goals, the fewest among Western Conference teams. The Florida Panthers (62), Carolina Hurricanes (61) and Buffalo Sabres (52) are the only teams with fewer goals.
"Against a team like that, we knew it was going to be a close game as far as chances and score-wise. They play tight and make you make mistakes," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "We made one mistake and they score a goal. They are known for blocking shots. Getting behind one [goal], Scrivens gave us a chance to win, but it's tough to win a hockey game when you don't score a goal."
The Rangers were without center Derick Brassard, who was diagnosed with the mumps Sunday and sent back to New York. Brassard was replaced in the lineup by left wing Tanner Glass, who contracted the mumps in late November.
Girardi scored at 16:04 of the first period. He was looking for forward Mats Zuccarello in front and had the puck bounce off Oilers center Mark Arcobello's skate past Scrivens.
The Rangers outshot the Oilers 7-5 in the first period after allowing the first four shots of the game.
Things remained tight defensively in the second period, and the Rangers took a 15-10 shot advantage into the intermission.
"It was a tough night, it seemed, to get anything going," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "It was one of those, it looked like a game where you're watching paint dry. Both teams were being fairly responsible. The Rangers a few years ago took on that mentality of shot-blocking where nothing was ever going to get through. It seemed like they were able to block a ton of shots and we weren't able to get them through.
"The game seemed to come to a standstill all night; it wasn't a fast game from either side. I though they played a hell of a responsible game."
The Rangers blocked 21 shots. Center Dominic Moore led the way with four.
"We've had a couple of games that have gotten away from us, and it was good to see us close this game down," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We had a couple of breakdowns and [Lundqvist] made some big saves. But for the most part, we kept everybody in front of us and blocked shots. Ultimately we did enough little things and made enough plays to get ourselves the win."
The Rangers had a number of opportunities to extend their lead in the second. Their best fell to McDonagh on a rebound, but Scrivens was able to slide across and get his right pad out to make the save.
In the third, the Oilers pressed for the tying goal. Taylor Hall came close when he lifted a shot from in close, but Lundqvist was able to hold his ground and get a shoulder on the puck.
"I think a common theme for us early in the season was not getting those second and third opportunities," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "Tonight I thought we had guys going and it was just a matter of getting pucks through and getting those second and third opportunities. We just didn't get too many of those first opportunities. When you put only 16 shots on net, it's tough to win and it showed tonight."
Hagelin scored into an empty net on a breakaway at 19:38 after a shot was blocked at the Rangers blue line with Scrivens on the bench for an extra attacker.
The Rangers continue the Western Canada portion of their road trip against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, then conclude the trip at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Oilers go on a two-game road trip starting at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.