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Oilers to honor Sather prior to playing Rangers

by Derek Van Diest

RANGERS (18-8-3) at OILERS (12-15-2)


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers will raise a banner at Rexall Place to honor former coach and general manager Glen Sather on Friday, but the focus against the New York Rangers will be on extending their four-game winning streak.

The pregame ceremony will be attended by both teams along with members of the Oilers’ alumni, who won five Stanley Cup championships (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990) under Sather.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly also will be in attendance.

"I want them to take it all in. I think there is value in that," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "I want them to sit there and listen and absorb and recognize what that Oilers generation had on the community and the hockey world and bank it somewhere.

"It's our goal to put a team together like that, that can come back in 2030, 2035, whenever it is, and talk about some of our feats. But we have a lot of work before we get there."

The Oilers are on a four-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and have an opportunity to sweep a five-game homestand.

The Rangers lost 2-1 against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday in the first of a three-game Western Canada road trip. The Rangers have two wins in their past eight games (2-5-1) and did not hold a morning skate Friday. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will coach his 1,000th NHL game.

"We're on the bench for 35 minutes and then we'll go out for warm-up, which will be a little different. But under the circumstances we're happy to be part of the ceremony," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "I think all of Oil Country has an appreciation of what Glen Sather did for the team, and hopefully that's going to be on display tonight."

Hall had the overtime goal and an assist in a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. The winning streak pulled Edmonton within three points of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Pacific Division.

"It's not going to cut it to go 2-2 on a homestand if you want to get back in the playoff hunt," Hall said. "You have to put some streaks together and you have to beat teams that are hot. That's the case tonight against the Rangers."

The Rangers defeated the Oilers 2-0 at Rexall Place on Dec. 14, 2014 prompting the firing of coach Dallas Eakins the next day.

Todd Nelson took over on an interim basis and McLellan was hired in the offseason after spending seven seasons with the Sharks.

“For us the playoffs is our goal. But it's a long way to get there and we have to focus on little things," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "It's about getting better every day, trying to play our system and doing the little things that maybe we've had a habit of losing with in the past. And lately we've been changing a little bit."

Goaltender Anders Nilsson will start for Edmonton rather than Cam Talbot, whom the Oilers acquired from the Rangers at the 2015 NHL Draft.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal for New York.

Here are the projected lineups:


Kevin Hayes - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Oscar Lindberg - Rick Nash

J.T. Miller - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass - Jarret Stoll - Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Dylan McIlrath

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Injured: Derek Stepan (broken ribs), Kevin Klein (strained oblique)

Scratched: Emerson Etem


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Jujhar Khaira - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski

Luke Gazdic - Anton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse - Andrej Sekera

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba

Injured: Connor McDavid (collarbone), Rob Klinkhammer (leg), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Benoit Pouliot (lower body), Andrew Ference (undisclosed)

Scratched: Nikita Nikitin

Status report: Nikitin was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Thursday but will not be in the lineup against the Rangers. … On Wednesday the Oilers waived defenseman Mark Fayne and assigned him to Bakersfield after clearing waivers. … Talbot is expected to play when the Oilers play at the Rangers on Tuesday in the second of a four-game road trip.

Who's hot: Hall has three goals and two assists in his past three games. … Eberle has three goals and one assist in his past three games. He also scored the shootout winner against the Boston Bruins in the first game of the Oilers' five-game homestand. … Draisaitl has a goal and three assists in his past three games.

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