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Oilers set to visit Big Apple

by Brian Hunter
OILERS (4-8-3) at RANGERS (8-7-1)


Last 10: Edmonton 2-5-3; New York 5-5-0

Season Series: This is the only meeting on the 2010-11 schedule between these teams. Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik each finished with a power-play goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Oilers at Rexall Place on Nov. 5, 2009, in their most recent matchup.

Big Story: Following a day off to explore the Big Apple, the Oilers finish off their five-game road swing with a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden. Edmonton has lost three in a row since opening the trip with a win in Chicago, but Friday’s game in New Jersey marked the team’s best effort since beating the Blackhawks, as they picked up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Behind a pair of goals from Colin Fraser, his first two of the season, Edmonton had a reeling New Jersey squad behind the eight ball, as the Oilers led 3-1 on the Devils’ home ice late into the second period. But they let the advantage slip away, thanks in part to penalties that led to the tying goal and Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime winner.

"For a while it looked like two teams who were playing not to lose," coach Tom Renney said. "That being said, and coming off (Thursday) night and a couple pretty good licks (in a 6-2 loss to Detroit), I thought we showed some mettle."

Rangers: The return of Marian Gaborik to the lineup Thursday against Buffalo was a welcome sight for New York, which managed to play .500 hockey in the 12 games the star forward missed. Gaborik didn’t have a point in his first game back, but Artem Anisimov stole the show with a pair of goals, including the winner 1:32 into overtime as the Rangers edged the Sabres by a 3-2 score.

"It was a big win for us after the last two games," said Anisimov, who now has 5 goals on the season. "We played hard and deserved to win. And winning at home right now is very important."

Who's Hot: Ryan Whitney has 4 assists in the Oilers’ last four games and leads the team with 13 points, all assists. ... Anisimov picked up his team-leading second game-winning goal Thursday and his 42 shots for the season are second on the Rangers to top goal-scorer Brandon Dubinsky.

Injury Report: Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff is day-to-day with a bruised thigh, while forward Jean-Francois Jacques is out indefinitely recovering from back surgery.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist missed Thursday’s game due to illness. If he’s still feeling the effects, Martin Biron, who made 29 saves against Buffalo, is ready to go. Defenseman Michal Rozsival is out with a shoulder injury. Forwards Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee surgery) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster leads his team in shots, and by a wide margin -- his 46 are a dozen more than forwards Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi. ... Gaborik had three shots on goal and saw 18:40 of ice time for the Rangers in his return.

Puck Drop: Home ice has provided its fair share of struggles for the Blueshirts -- they were just 2-5-1 at the Garden before pulling out the OT win over Buffalo, as opposed to an excellent 5-2-0 on the road. This game may come down to how much Edmonton has left in the tank, as it finishes a long, tough road trip with its third game in four days.
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