January 1, 2020 / 5:08 AM / 2 months ago

Neal's hat trick helps Oilers hold off Rangers

EditorsNote: Fixed spelling of MacDonald in 2nd graf; added Mika Zibanejad among Rangers goal scorers in 6th graf; other minor fixes

Dec 31, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev (40) looks on as the the puck streaks past him from Edmonton Oilers center (89) Sam Gagner as New York Rangers defenceman (23) Adam Fox looks on during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

James Neal scored twice in the opening 8:46 of the first period and recorded a hat trick Tuesday night, and the Edmonton Oilers raced out to a six-goal lead, then held on for a 7-5 victory over the visiting New York Rangers.

Neal recorded his second hat trick of the season, becoming the fifth player with multiple hat tricks in his first season for Edmonton. He joined Blair MacDonald (1979-80), Jari Kurri (1980-81), Glenn Anderson (1980-81) and Wayne Gretzky (1979-80).

Neal scored 11 seconds into the game. After scoring a power-play goal later in the first period, he notched his eighth career hat trick by scoring on the power play again with 6:37 remaining in the second for a 5-0 lead.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored and collected three assists for the Oilers, who improved to 5-10-1 in their past 16 games.

Leon Draisaitl and Josh Archibald also scored, and Kailer Yamamoto added an empty-net goal with 67 seconds left after Edmonton nearly collapsed in the third.

Chris Kreider scored New York’s first goal with 26 seconds left in the second period, and Ryan Strome, Marc Staal, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad tallied in the third period for the Rangers. Panarin also had three assists a day after being named to the All-Star Game.

Edmonton goaltender Mikko Koskinen stopped the first 20 shots he faced and finished with 28 saves.

New York backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev allowed six goals on 24 shots before being pulled for Henrik Lundqvist after Edmonton went up 6-0. Lundqvist finished with six saves.

Neal made it 1-0 when he put Zack Kassian’s backhanded pass over Georgiev. The Oilers went up 2-0 when Neal tipped in Oscar Klefbom’s shot from the point past Georgiev’s stick.

Nugent-Hopkins made it 3-0 by redirecting a point shot from Ethan Bear with 8:47 remaining in the first. Draisaitl extended the lead to 4-0 by shoving the puck past Georgiev from the high slot with 6:49 remaining in the second, and Neal notched his hat trick 12 seconds later with a one-timer from above the right circle.

Kreider started the comeback by putting a one-timer by Koskinen with 26 seconds left in the second. Strome’s tap-in made it 6-2 at 4:38 of the third, Staal’s tip-in made it 6-3 with 8:31 remaining, and Panarin’s wrist shot less than a minute later cut the deficit to two.

Zibanejad made it 6-5 with 3:45 remaining when his long shot eluded Koskinen’s glove and trickled into the net.

—Field Level Media

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