NEW YORK – The New York Rangers continued their hot start to the 2016-2017 season Thursday night as they defeated the surprisingly good Edmonton Oilers 5-3 at Madison Square Garden. It improved their home record to 7-1-0 and overall record to 8-3-0 on the season.
In what was expected to be a great match-up between two teams off to terrific starts it sure lived up to its expectation. The scoring was opened up by the Oilers on a play set up by Connor McDavid, captain of the Oilers to Ryan-Nugent Hopkins at 6:36 of the opening period. It was answered by Kevin Hayes just two minutes later as he picked up his forth goal of the season. Both the Rangers and Oilers traded goals in period two. Michael Grabner picked up his sixth goal of the season in the middle period.
Edmonton, who had the Great One, Wayne Gretzky in attendance took a 3-2 lead 8:49 of the third period only to be answered by Jesper Fast who picked up his first of the season. The game would remained tied until Rick Nash parked himself in front of Oilers net minder and former Ranger Cam Talbot with less than two minutes left in regulation and slipped the puck past an outstretched Talbot for the 4-3 lead. The Rangers would then tack on the empty net goal by J.T. Miller to finish off an exciting game.
For the Rangers, it is another stellar performance as they find ways to win and continue to use their speed. The highlight of the night came from the third line of Grabner, Hayes and Miller. That line has combined for seven points (three goals, four assists) in tonight’s game, as each of the three players tallied a goal and registered at least two points. Over the last three games, the trio has notched 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists).
When asked about the line who is lighting the score sheet up head coach Alain Vigneault went on to say, “They were playing well. They were protecting the puck. They were making the right plays against a team that had a lot of back pressure in the neutral zone with their (defense) standing up, so you have to make the right plays with the puck. They played a real strong game. I played them a good portion of the game against their top two lines and I thought they did a real good job for us all night long.”
During his post game conference, Vigneault mentioned that this wasn’t the best game he felt his team play and called this win a character win. What has been winning games for the Rangers is the constant rolling of four solid lines that have been producing on a nightly basis. Vigneault felt there wasn’t much clicking so when asked about shortening the bench he went on to say, “It came to a point with about seven minutes left in the second where I thought I needed to shorten the bench a little bit and I felt the nine forwards that I used had a little bit more as far as jump and execution. I really thought for us it wasn’t our best game, but I thought it was a character win. We were down three times, we came back, found a way to win it with less than two minutes to go. It’s about winning games and that’s what we did tonight.”
Over the last three games with this one included the Rangers felt each game was a test and if so they have passed with flying colors. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist happened to think that this indeed was another test, “It was a great test for us. They came out really hard. The first ten minutes of the first period, I thought they were the better team. They showed their speed, but they didn’t surprise us at all. We discussed what type of team they are and they showed it. In the second half of the first, we kind of got ourselves back in the game”.
The Rangers have now registered 45 goals through the first 11 games of the 2016-17 season. New York has recorded at least 45 goals in the first 11 contests of a season for the first time since 1990-91. The Blueshirts have registered five or more goals in six of 11 games in 2016-17. They also have recorded at least eight wins in the first 11 games of a season for the fifth time in their 90-season history (1983-84, 1988-89, 1990-91, 2008-09, and 2016-17). New York’s eight wins through the first 11 games in 2016-17 are tied for the second-most wins in the first 11 games of one season in franchise history.
What is making this hot start early is goal scoring. It seems as if they are getting scoring from different guys each night. Tonight yet again they saw five different goal scorers. The Rangers are tied for the NHL lead in goal differential this season (plus-20; 45 goals for, 25 goals against). The Rangers’ plus-20 goal differential through 11 games this season is the best through the first 11 games of any season in franchise history. New York has posted a plus-12 goal differential over the last three games (16-4).
The Rangers had to fight back three times tonight against a very good Oilers team and Rick Nash when asked about the team’s mentality he went on to say, “I think we stick with it. We know we are a good team. Obviously the last few games we played some really good teams. It shows a lot when you go down three times and you come back every time.”
A small road trip awaits as the Rangers will fly up to Boston for a Saturday game to then come back home for a Sunday game. Another back to back and possibly another test for the Rangers.
Since the start of the 2005-06 season, the Rangers lead the NHL in wins during November (85; 85-46-9 record in 140 games during the month).
Rick Nashregistered the game-winning goal, which was his 399th career NHL goal, led all skaters with five shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating. Nash extended his goal/point streak to three games (three goals, one assist). In addition, Nash has recorded a goal/point in four of the last five games and in six of 11 games this season, and the Rangers have posted a 6-0-0 record in games which he has tallied a goal/point this season. Nash is tied for the team lead in goals in 2016-17 (six).
The Rangers have recorded at least eight wins in the first 11 games of a season for the fifth time in their 90-season history (1983-84, 1988-89, 1990-91, 2008-09, and 2016-17). New York’s eight wins through the first 11 games in 2016-17 are tied for the second-most wins in the first 11 games of one season in franchise history.