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GAME STORY: Rangers 3, Oilers 1

Oilers outshoot Rangers 39-27 but an early Rangers goal proves to be too much to overcome in 3-1 setback

by Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers vs. Rangers Post-Game

EDMONTON, AB -- The Oilers couldn't overcome an early goal by Michael Grabner and despite carrying a heavy 39-27 shot advantage, couldn't narrow the gap in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday night.  

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Edmonton hits the road where they will face the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. The game can be seen on Sportsnet Oilers and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 8:08 p.m. MST.

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After the game, Oilers head coach Todd McLellan talked about the team's inability to generate quality scoring chances despite directing a lot of pucks on net. 

"We're going to have to look at that. We're generating pressure towards the net but there's not a lot of secondary chances - tip-ins, deflections seem to be going wide rather than to the pads. Just not enough secondary scramble type stuff," the head coach remarked.

"Even at the end (of the game), we're poking away but there's not enough of that. The goaltender's probably a little too comfortable so we're going to have to work on that."

For the fifth time in the last seven games, the opposition scored within the game's opening two minutes. Grabner's shot eluded Talbot only 80 seconds into the contest. It was Grabner's first of two goals on the night. 

The Rangers then extended their lead in the latter half of the opening frame. In an effort to break up a strong Rangers cycle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins poked at J.T. Miller resulting in a delayed penalty. 

With the extra attacker on the ice, Dan Girardi pinched down low and redirected a feed from Kevin Hayes past Talbot to extend New York's lead to 2-0. 

With the Oilers down 2-1 in the second period, Grabner took advantage of a turnover from Nugent-Hopkins and skated in behind the Oilers defence all alone on Talbot. Grabner's second attempt just barely got over the line before the net got dislodged, resulting in a 3-1 Rangers lead. 

According to McLellan, the loss came as a result of a lack of real quality scoring chances in addition to the team gifting the Rangers both Grabner goals.  

"It's disappointing," he began. "I said this morning, I think they're one of the top two-three teams in the National Hockey League. Nuge gives them the present on the third goal. We give them the gift on the back check on the first goal. Maybe through the way the game is played, they get the second one. They had six guys on the ice, they get a deflection and it goes in, you've got to give them that.

"But two presents against the top two teams in the League? No chance. And then you don't score enough. You've got a lot of players missing in action."

McLellan was frustrated with the performance of some of his players and shook up his lines in an effort to try and get something going. He had Tyler Pitlick up on the top line with McDavid and Maroon, Kassian with Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic, and Eberle with Nugent-Hopkins and Pouliot.

"Certainly based on tonight, (Eberle) wouldn't get a passing grade in my book. And I thought (Pitlick) did a tremendous job going up there. You earn your keep, and Ebs didn't earn it tonight in my mind."

The lone Oilers goal was scored by Andrej Sekera. The blueliner skated into the slot and pinched in to redirect a feed from Connor McDavid off the side boards high blocker side on Raanta.   

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