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Rangers score twice shorthanded, blank Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- After a misstep against the Calgary Flames on Friday, the New York Rangers returned to their winning ways with a 5-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Sunday night.

Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello each scored two goals and Derek Stepan added three assists in the win.

Derick Brassard also scored for the Rangers and rookie goaltender Cam Talbot made 26 saves for his third shutout of the season.

"It was a huge bounce-back," Nash said. "Our defensive play in Calgary wasn't good and we left [goalie Henrik Lundqvist] out to dry in net. This game was totally different. We played tight around our net."

The Rangers (41-30-4) scored two shorthanded goals in the victory, giving them six wins in their past seven games, the lone blemish the 4-3 loss to the Flames. The win tied a franchise record for road victories with 24. It also gave the Rangers sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points up on the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have two games in hand.

"We have kind of a mini-playoffs right now just to get in," Nash said. "We are looking at every game as a must-win right now. You look at the teams that have success in the playoffs and it is usually ones that are playing well going in."

Goalie Ben Scrivens stopped 27 shots for the Oilers, (26-40-9) who have lost four of their past five games. Sunday marked the ninth time Edmonton has been shut out this season and the sixth time at home. The Oilers have allowed a League-high 13 shorthanded goals and will finish with at least 40 losses for the fourth consecutive season.

"There is a misconception about this team, that it's an offensive, skilled team. We're not," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We have some players that have some skill, but the last four or five years, this team has been bottom five or six in shots for, every year. [We're] basically 26th every year in scoring, a couple of times bumped up to 19th or something like that. There is a misconception about this team. This is not a high-powered offensive team. It's not.

"The history over the last four or five years knows that. We have to find a way to manufacture some offense and it's something that we're going to have to look into this summer as we add and subtract."

Zuccarello scored at 16:30 of the first period to give the Rangers the lead, tipping an Anton Stralman point shot over Scrivens. The goal was reviewed, but it was determined Zuccarello's stick was below the height of the crossbar when making contact with the puck.

The Rangers then took control of the game with three goals in the second period.

Brassard increased the Rangers' lead at 4:38 after his centering attempt bounced off the stick of Oilers defenseman Martin Marincin and past Scrivens.

Nash put the Rangers up 3-0 at 9:07 benefiting from another fortunate bounce. The Rangers forward had his centering attempt from behind the net bounce in off Scrivens' pad.

"The first goal was a tip. At first I thought it was a high stick, but the refs made the right call," Eakins said. "Then the next two that went in, they were just crazy goals. And now you're down three and you're [in trouble]. That being said, we were still preaching to the guys, to try and get one on the board and see where it goes, maybe something is going to bounce for us.

"Then our power play, that fourth one was an absolute disregard for danger. It's unacceptable."

Nash scored his second of the game at 13:26, on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush. Nash broke out with Stepan, after an ill-advised pinch by Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz. Nash took a pass from Stepan and fired a shot past Scrivens.

"We have to recognize danger and we're not doing a good job of that right now," Schultz said. "We're taking high-quality chances and they're taking down and scoring on us every time. I don't know why we do it, we're all guilty of it and we have to get better at that.

"It's definitely a momentum swing. When you're on a power play, you want to create momentum for your team and when you're worried about giving up shorthanded goals and things like that, it's not good. We definitely have to get better on the power play for sure."

Zuccarello scored his second goal of the night at 3:39 of the third period, also shorthanded. Zuccarello was left alone in front of the net and converted a Stepan feed, firing a shot over the shoulder of Scrivens.

"On some nights you need some bounces and we got a couple," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our penalty killing gave us two big goals, which was good to see. We hadn't played as well as we would have liked defensively in Calgary on Friday. We were better [tonight]."

Later in the third, Nash came close to scoring his third goal of the night, but was denied on a glove save by Scrivens. The Oilers registered 10 shots in the third period against Talbot, but never really threatened to score.

"In Calgary we felt we were sloppy defensively," Stepan said. "Our main focus was to protect the middle and made sure that when Cam had to face a shot that it was only one. He made some great saves for us.

"We tightened it up, and moving forward, we have to play that way because the points are so big. We have played a good defensive game over the last few weeks and that is what is going to lead to our offense and help us win."

The Rangers continue their four-game road trip Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks; the Oilers begin a three-game road trip Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

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