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RECAP: Rangers 4, Oilers 2

by Ryan Frankson / Edmonton Oilers

NEW YORK, NY– The Oilers power play let them down on Tuesday against the New York Rangers as they had their six-game win streak snapped in a 4-2 loss, despite having three PPs in a row to start the third period.

Edmonton opened its four-game road trip with a 3-2 win in Boston on Monday, hitting the half-dozen mark for consecutive victories. They couldn’t make it lucky seven in the Big Apple, though, and Head Coach Todd McLellan said post-game a loss is painful regardless of the games that preceded it.

“We’re disappointed that we lost,” said the bench boss. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve won two or three in a row or you’ve lost five or six in a row, every loss stings. It hurts… It’s not a good feeling and nobody is happy about that. That’s the way it should be in our locker room.”

“We definitely felt the effects of the back-to-back,” defenceman Brandon Davidson added. “The difference was PK, power play, special teams tonight. If we could have taken care of that a little better, I think we would have had a better fate… We’ve got to generate more from (our PP). It had to be there and it wasn’t.”

In the opening frame, the Oilers played like a team coming off a tiring OT victory the previous night. The Rangers outshot them 9-6 and outhit them 15-2, also scoring the lone goal of the period courtesy Mats Zuccarello at 5:04. The Norwegian picked up his team-leading 14th tally of the season, rifling a wrist shot top shelf through traffic past Anders Nilsson.

The Oil had some prime opportunities to even the score with a pair of power plays in the opening frame, but they were unsuccessful on both with only two total shots on goal.

Third time was a charm for the Oilers PP in the middle frame as Taylor Hall converted for his team-leading 15th goal of the season at 5:12. Leon Draisaitl made a perfect pass from the corner to a streaking Hall, who waited for Henrik Lundqvist to make his move before beating him five-hole with a wrist shot. Teddy Purcell got the second assist, giving that trio a combined 26 points in seven games.

The tie and the PP success was short-lived, however, as Dylan McIlrath scored his first NHL goal at 7:54 to put the Rangers up 2-1. The d-man walloped a one-timer from the point that eluded Nilsson on his glove side.

The teams traded goals once more late in the middle frame, starting with the Oilers as Jordan Eberle tied the game with his fifth goal in six games at 18:20. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stole the puck in the neutral zone and passed to Eberle, who burst in alone on Lundqvist and beat him to the top corner. The RNH helper bumped him up to 23 points on the season, third most on the team.

The Rangers refused to stay tied, as Rick Nash scored on the PP just 61 seconds later, thanks to Edmonton taking a too-many-men penalty. Nash got the puck at the side of the net, and after Nilsson made the first stop with his pad, the power forward chipped the puck higher on the rebound attempt to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes.

“That was a bad goal for me to give up, I should have had the short side covered,” Nilsson said following his first loss since Nov. 30 in Toronto. “I made the first save, but I slipped away from my post. I should have stuck to my post and made the second save too… It’s one I would like to have back.”

Three straight Rangers penalties gave the Oilers three straight power plays to start the third, but their woes with the man advantage continued as they failed to convert. Jesper Fast scored an empty-net goal in the dying seconds while Lundqvist finished the night with 18 saves for the win.

“For the most part, it was a good effort,” said Hall, who is among the League scoring leaders with 35 points. “We probably didn’t deserve two points last night. Tonight, we definitely could have… Our power play got one tonight, but we would have loved to get that second one.”

The Oilers will get a much-needed day of rest in Chicago on Wednesday before returning to action on Thursday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Chicago has won both of the teams’ meetings so far this season, 4-2 in the Windy City on Nov. 8 and 4-3 in OT on Nov. 18 at Rexall Place, with Marian Hossa picking up the sudden-death GWG.
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