The New York Rangers finally broke their little losing slump this evening and responded with a huge 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden. In addition, the Rangers have a ton to look forward to in Brady Skjei after having an extremely impressive outing in his NHL debut. Dylan McIlrath also had a big game tonight, and came away with the first goal of his career on a booming slap shot.
There was plenty to like tonight on the back end, and McIlrath/Skjei were some of those extremely bright spots. I hope Alain Vigneault saw the glaring difference between tonight and the last few games. Heck, Skjei was even getting penalty kill time late in the game with a one goal lead, and he handled himself quite well. If that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what will.
With the Edmonton Oilers grinding out a tough win last night against the Boston Bruins, the Rangers looked to get a quick start against a tired team. Mats Zuccarello made sure things started off with a bang, and sniped one over the shoulder of Anders Nilsson. That gave the Rangers an early lead in the game, and gave the Rangers a quick jolt of confidence after coming home from a disappointing Western Canada trip.
That one goal lead would hold up until the second period, where the Oilers found an early goal on the power play. Taylor Hall created a ton of space off to the side of the net, and was able to walk in on Henrik Lundqvist with a pretty clear shooting lane. Hall was able to wait out Lundqvist, and slipped the puck through the five-hole to knot the game up at 1-1. Obviously the Rangers weren't too thrilled about giving up the goal, and they came roaring back.
A few moments later, Dylan McIlrath unleashed a cannon of a shot from the blue line, and smoked the puck past Nilsson for his first NHL goal. That excitement would only be short lived though, as the Oilers responded at the 18:20 mark to tie up the game at 2-2. Brady Skjei wound up whiffing on the puck as it came rolling towards him, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins intercepted Skjei's second swat at the puck.
Nugent-Hopkins found Jordan Eberle cutting right down the middle all alone, and Eberle finished it off with a slick move on the breakaway. The action wouldn't stop there, though, and right after the tying goal, the Rangers were awarded a power play opportunity. Rick Nash would eventually cash in on his own rebound off to the side of the net, and put the Rangers right back on top with a 3-2 lead.
That one goal lead would carry over to the third period, where the Rangers completely locked down the Oilers in the offensive zone. There were plenty of power play opportunities for the Oilers, but the Rangers shut down their shooting lanes, and killed off the penalties rather convincingly. With a little under 10 seconds remaining, Jesper Fast sealed the deal with the empty net goal, and sent the Rangers on their way to a 4-2 victory.
After a disappointing road trip, it was important for the Rangers to respond with a big win tonight. Even though it was the Oilers, they had won six games coming into tonight, so this was no easy game by any means. Couple that with the excellent play of McIlrath and Skeji on the back end, and the Rangers have plenty of promise moving forward.
Hopefully AV keeps this lineup intact the next few games and see what they can do. Thoughts?