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Rangers aim for third straight win in Western Canada

by Dave Lozo
RANGERS (2-1-2) at OILERS (2-2-2)


Season Series:
First and only meeting. In last year's lone matchup, the Rangers won 8-2 at Madison Square Garden. The game featured a hat trick by Marian Gaborik, five fights and a total of 154 penalty minutes between the teams.

Big Story:
Everyone knows the Oilers are a team loaded with young talent, with an average age of 26.76. But it might come as a surprise to learn the Rangers are actually the younger team in this matchup with an average age of 26.68. Both sides are trying to take off after middling starts to the season.

Team Scope:

Rangers: When the Rangers left for their Western Canadian trip, they were struggling in a major way. They lost twice in Europe and again back in the States against the Islanders. But they exploded for four third-period goals in the third period of Tuesday's 4-0 win against the Canucks and earned a dramatic OT victory Thursday against the Flames when Ryan McDonagh scored with less than 2 seconds remaining.

Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves in the win and has stopped 73 of 75 shots the past two games. Perhaps Martin Biron will make his first appearance of the season against the Oilers, but it wouldn't be surprising to see coach John Tortorella go back to his No. 1 goalie yet again.

"He's just a world-class athlete," McDonagh said of Lundqvist. "He gave us every chance possible to win this game."

Oilers: While the Rangers are coming off a stirring victory thanks to a late-game goal, the Oilers were victims of one against the Wild on Thursday.

Less than two seconds from a win, Dany Heatley tied the game just before the end of regulation. The Wild went on to win in a shootout and steal a point from the Oilers.

"I thought we played well, but it came down to tenths of seconds," coach Tom Renney said. "I have nothing but confidence in this team. They're a pleasure to coach because they want badly to do the right thing."

Who's Hot: Obviously, Lundqvist has been great, but Gaborik has goals in three straight games while McDonagh has 2 goals and 2 assists as the Rangers try to get by without their No. 1 defenseman, Marc Staal, to start the season. … No. 1 pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been living up to the hype, leading the Oilers with 5 points (4 goals) in six games.

Injury Report:
Besides Staal, defenseman Michael Sauer (shoulder) and forward Wojtek Wolski (groin) have been banged up of late. … Oilers left wing Darcy Hordichuk (knee) is out.

Stat Pack:
By beating the Canucks and Flames, the Rangers ended losing streaks in those cities dating to 1997 and 2002, respectively. That won't be the case in Edmonton, where they won in 2009.

Puck Drop: "You feel excited about getting the two points. More importantly I thought we -- through most of the game -- played better as a team." -- Tortorella after the Rangers beat the Flames

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