New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was looking for a strong group effort against the Edmonton Oilers. He got that on Monday night, and now his team is sitting atop the NHL standings.
Chris Kreider scored his 20th goal, Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, and the Rangers beat the slumping Oilers 4-1 for their third straight win.
“When we talked before the game, we talked about 20 guys playing, and 20 guys showed up to play hard so that was huge for our group,” Gallant said. “We got the lead again and just kept going.”
Alexis Lafreniere and Barclay Goodrow each had a goal and an assist, and Adam Fox had two assists to help the Rangers win for the fourth time in six games (4-1-1). They moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL; they’re tied with Washington with 48 points but hold the edge with more wins in regulation.
The latest win followed two victories against two-time defending champion Tampa Bay – including a 4-0 shutout on Sunday.
“The last two nights have been just a really good team effort, top to bottom,” Strome said. “D, forwards, goalies. It’s been nice to see. ... We’ve been playing really good hockey. The rink’s buzzing, guys are excited and happy, it’s a good feeling.”
Alexandar Georgiev, playing for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, stopped 33 shots to get his first win since Dec. 10 against Buffalo. He improved to 6-3-2 with a 2.72 goals-against average this season.
“Things are going well for us defensively,” Georgiev said. “Guys are doing a really good job. Helped me a lot not to let them have too many secondary scoring chances, no rebounds.”
Ryan McLeod scored for Edmonton, which fell to 2-8-2 over their last 12 games since starting the season 16-5-0. Mikko Koskinen had 24 saves.
“I thought we did a lot of things well tonight,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “Our goaltender wasn’t very good, and we didn’t find enough pucks at the net to get us back in the game. ... We haven’t played as well as we’d like to as a group. There’s lots to improve on.”
The Rangers held Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl – the NHL’s top two point scorers at 53 and 52, respectively – off the scoresheet. McDavid had seven shots on goal, and Draisaitl had two.
“They’re great players, they get their scoring chances, but we did a great job tonight,” Gallant said.
On the Rangers’ third power play of the game, Kreider deflected Fox’s point shot between Koskinen’s legs. The goalie thought he stopped the puck but it slowly trickled behind and over the line at 3:32 of the third to push the lead to 3-1. It was Kreider’s 12th power-play goal, trailing Draisaitl by one for the league lead.
The Oilers were pressing on their power play midway through the period, but Georgiev made a stellar glove stop on McDavid’s attempt from the right side. With the puck loose in front, he then denied Zach Hyman with 8 1/2 minutes left to draw chants of “Geor-gie! Geor-gie!” from the crowd.
Strome then made it 4-1 as his centring pass from the right side deflected off the skate of Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie and past Koskinen for his eighth goal with 5:49 left.
The Rangers led 1-0 after 20 minutes and doubled their lead early in the second period when Lafreniere sent a centring pass from the edge of the right circle to Goodrow, who beat Koskinen for his seventh at 3:49.
The Oilers cut their deficit in half with 6 minutes remaining in the middle period. Tyler Benson got a pass from Kyle Turris, skated along the right side and sent a centring pass from the corner and McLeod deflected it past Georgiev for his fourth.
“We played solid in stretches,” McLeod said. “We are frustrated but there’s a lot of hope in our room. We know how good we can be ... We’ve been trailing every game. Hopefully next game we can get one and get going.”
Lafreniere got the Rangers on the scoreboard at 5:25 of the first after Koskinen left the crease to play the puck behind the net. Strome skated up and took the puck away from him and sent it in front to Lafreniere, who quickly scored his eighth before the goalie could get back in position.
Edmonton came in with the league’s top power play at 31.2 per cent, but went 0 for 2 against the Rangers. The Oilers are scoreless in four chances over their last four games.
The Rangers, seventh at 25.3 per cent, were 1 for 5 against the Oilers, and are 6 for 19 over their last six games.
The Rangers played without star forward Artemi Panarin for the second straight game. Panarin was placed in COVID-19 protocols before Sunday’s 4-0 win over Tampa Bay. D Ryan Lindgren and C Kevin Rooney came off protocols and played, D Jarred Tinordi also remained on the list.
Oilers: At Toronto on Wednesday night to wrap up a five-game trip.
Rangers: At Vegas on Thursday night to open a five-game trip.