EditorsNote: Corrects spelling of Grabner; adds dropped word “his” in Jesse Puljujarvi paragraph
Nash leads Rangers over Oilers
NEW YORK — By being in the right place at the right time, the New York Rangers continued trending in the right direction.
Rick Nash scored twice as the Rangers ran their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Saturday afternoon.
Pavel Buchnevich scored on the power play in between Nash’s two goals and Michael Grabner scored an empty-net goal with two seconds as the Rangers (9-7-2) also improved to 8-2 in their last 10 games.
“I think we’ve played some pretty good hockey here for quite some time,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Our last ten are very good, probably one of the best in the NHL right now.”
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, including a stop on Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom with 24 seconds remaining.
Jesse Puljujarvi scored in his season debut and Connor McDavid scored a power-play goal for Edmonton (6-9-1), which was unable to get a season-high third straight win after overtime victories over the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
Cam Talbot, who was Lundqvist’s backup two years ago, made 30 saves.
“They were able to get two quick ones on the power play,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said. “It sets you back and they such a good job in the neutral zone of clogging things up that it’s hard to come back against them.”
New York picked up its latest win by following the adage of going hard to the net and good things will happen. The Rangers scored their first three goals by crashing the net and capitalizing on mistakes.
Nash began his first multi-goal game since his hat trick on Nov. 21, 2015 at Florida by driving to the net after starting a give-and-go play with Kevin Hayes.
Nash passed the puck to Hayes after Mats Zuccarello cleared it out of the defensive zone. Nash then went to the net to wait for the return feed from Hayes, who faked a shot on Talbot.
With Talbot out of position, Nash simply lifted the puck into the vacated net while parked near the right side of the crease at 12:19 of the first period.
“You just try to give the puck to playmakers and open up and try to get your shot through,” Hayes said. “It was a great pass by him.”
Nash then finished off his 63rd career two-goal game by going to the net again. Only this time, he wasn’t racing up the ice when he snapped a 2-2 tie.
During a power play, the Rangers maintained possession, Nash emerged from behind the net and parked himself at the left side of the crease. He timed it well because Talbot was out of position again and Nash simply lifted the pass from Brady Skjej into the net while falling to the ice with 1:07 remaining in the second period.
“We kind of talked about that play before the game and we knew there’s going to be a chance it would be open,” Nash said. “Brady and I talked about it and he made a great pass. You just try to build a wall with your skates and your sticks and you hope it hits something.
“When you get a goalie like Cam, we know him pretty well. He challenges hard. He leaves that backdoor play open.”
Nash’s game-winner occurred 3:43 after Buchnevich scored on a power play by getting to the net. He finished off a long cross-ice pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and lifted the puck by Talbot.
“Talbs (Talbot) doesn’t get a lot of second opportunities,” Shattenkirk said. “He swallows a lot of pucks. A lot of times what you’re going to do is backdoor plays and guys going hard to the crease, and we made a couple of nice plays.”
New York’s execution on the power play occurred after the Oilers took a 2-1 lead.
“We played a pretty hard game,” Talbot said. “It came down to special teams today. We lost that battle and it cost us two points.”
Puljujarvi tied the game by burying a wrist shot inside the far post over Lundqvist’s glove with 3:34 remaining in the first. McDavid scored on the power play with 9:54 remaining in the second by flicking a wrist shot from the right side under defenseman Marc Staal and Lundqvist.
NOTES: Edmonton RW Jesse Puljujarvi was in the lineup in place of LW Anton Slepyshev (groin), who went on injured reserve Friday. ... Rangers D Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game and eighth time overall. ... New York C Boo Nieves returned after missing the previous three games with a stomach bug. He skated on the fourth line with LW Michael Grabner and RW Jesper Fast. ... Edmonton LW Drake Caggiula missed his second straight game due to a foot injury. It was the fifth game overall Caggiula missed due to injury. ... Rangers LW Jimmy Vesey went to the locker room after getting hit the mouth by Edmonton RW Zach Kassian’s skate early in the second period. He returned in the third with a protective cage on his helmet. After the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said a couple of teeth are in Vesey’s lip. Vigneault then added “he came back and played” as he exited the interview room.