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Rangers attempt to keep rolling as Oilers hit town

by Tal Pinchevsky

OILERS (19-33-6) at RANGERS (31-23-3)


Last 10: Edmonton 4-5-1; New York 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first game between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, who will meet again March 30 at Rexall Place. They last met on Oct. 22, 2011, a 2-0 Oilers win in Edmonton.

Big story: The Oilers split the first two games of a pre-Olympic break four-game road trip that ends Friday against the New Jersey Devils. They're facing a hot Rangers team that has won four straight and is 8-3-1 at home since Dec. 22.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton entered its four-game trip with three straight wins before losing 4-0 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Ilya Bryzgalov made 42 saves for the Oilers in a 3-2 win Monday against the Buffalo Sabres, continuing a remarkable stretch by Edmonton's goaltenders that was highlighted by Ben Scrivens' historic 59-save shutout of the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 29.

The win in Buffalo came courtesy of Matt Hendricks' game-winning shorthanded goal 57 seconds into the third, his second score since being acquired by Edmonton on Jan. 15.

"The guys have been great, from the top of the organization through the coaching staff through every player," Hendricks said after the game. "They really have a class-act organization."

The Oilers' recent success has coincided with the improved play of Nail Yakupov. The top pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has struggled this season but is finding his stride with four points during Edmonton's 4-1-0 stretch. He was rewarded this week by coach Dallas Eakins, who put him on the first line during practice on Wednesday alongside top scorer Taylor Hall and No. 1 center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Rangers: A 5-1 home victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday gave New York its first four-game winning streak of the season. The Rangers are playing their best hockey and doing it as a team, rolling four forward lines and relying on three solid defensive pairings, a situation enabled with the acquisition of veteran defenseman Kevin Klein from the Nashville Predators on Jan. 22.

The Rangers' balanced offense has generated 18 goals in the past four games. Remarkably, the only forward not to score in that span is Chris Kreider, who has been one of the team's most dangerous snipers all season. Kreider is still contributing on New York's top line, and offense seems to be coming from all different sources.

"All four lines are scoring big goals. Maybe in the past it's been more about the first line," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after the win against Colorado. "It's great to see the competition between the lines. They all want to be the line to score the big goal."

Despite the offensive cohesion, rumors have surfaced that impending free agent Ryan Callahan could be traded. The Rangers captain responded Tuesday with two goals, including the game-winner, and a big statement after the game.

"That's where I want to be," Callahan said. "On the ice playing for the Rangers."

Who's hot: Oilers forward David Perron has three goals and five points in his past four games. Defenseman Justin Schultz has three goals in his past five games. … Lundqvist has allowed three goals in his past three starts for the Rangers and stopped 95 of 98 shots for a .969 save percentage. Linemates Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard have six points each during their respective four-game point streaks.

Injury report: Edmonton defenseman Philip Larsen (illness) is on injured reserve. … New York is missing forward Derek Dorsett (broken fibula).

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