The New York Rangers took care of business tonight, and defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a score of a 5-0. In the process, they also tied a franchise record for most road wins in a regular season at 24. Cam Talbot didn't have a whole lot of work in the early going, but was tested a few times in the later half of the game, and picked up his third career shutout. Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Derek Stepan all had huge games, and it's nice to see the big time players continuing to step up in the final stretch of games. Now, if only we could get Martin St. Louis that first goal...
To say the Rangers dominated this game would be the understatement of the year, as they took it to the Oilers in all three zones early on. The Rangers wound up getting on the board late in the first period as Mats Zuccarello redirected Anton Stralman's point shot. With a whole slew of bodies in the high slot, Ben Scrivens wasn't able to get an eye on the puck, and it just barely slipped under the crossbar.
While every goal is a big one, that one is huge in terms of confidence for Mats Zuccarello. He hadn't scored since the Stadium Series game against the New Jersey Devils, which snapped an extended goal drought. With some important games coming up, it's important for the Rangers big guns to step up to the plate, and they did that once again tonight.
With the way the Rangers pressured the Oilers in the first period, you could feel that they were on the brink of exploding for several goals. They did just that in the second period as Derick Brassard scored the Rangers second goal off of a fluky bounce in front. Brassard was initially trying to force a pass to the high slot, but the puck wound up deflecting off of the stick of Martin Marincin, and into his own net.
Later on in the period, it was the Rick Nash show as he came away with a pair of goals (one shorthanded) to extend the Rangers lead to 4-0. His first goal came off of yet another fluky bounce at the side of the net, and he banked the puck in off of Scrivens' skate. His second goal came a little over four minutes later on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush with Derek Stepan. Stepan made an excellent pass over to Nash before the defender could adjust to the play, and Nash ripped a shot over Scrivens' shoulder for his second of the night
Speaking of scoring in pairs, Mats Zuccarello closed out the scoring early in the third period with another shorthanded goal. Derek Stepan set up the goal once again as the Oilers failed to clear the puck after an odd-man rush back the other way. Stepan stuck with the puck, and dished it through Taylor Hall's legs to the wide open Zuccarello in front.
For 23-year old who is leading the Rangers in points, Derek Stepan sure has caught a ton of flak from fans this season. Sure, there were some sour grapes when he held out earlier in the year, but he has definitely paid his dues with the way he has responded throughout the year. I guess you can cross "finding a number one center" off of the to-do list for this off-season.
The Rangers will have an off day tomorrow before they head into Vancouver to take on John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks.