Preview: Rangers at Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers have been atop the Pacific Division for much of the season, buoyed by a fast start in which the team won its first five games for the first time in 34 years. However, captain Connor McDavid and the Oilers are tumbling down the standings and will look to halt their tailspin against the visiting New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Edmonton absorbed a 4-2 defeat at Vancouver heading into the Christmas break and returned from three days off with a flat effort in a 5-1 home loss to Calgary, its eighth setback in 10 games (2-7-1). "We've kinda thrown our good start away, but we've given ourselves a chance in the second half here to chase down a playoff spot," said McDavid, who leads the NHL in scoring. The Rangers, conversely, had gone more than a month without posting back-to-back wins so they were understandably thrilled after coming out of the break by knocking off Carolina and Toronto. "Tough situation, coming in after taking three days off and playing back-to-back,” coach David Quinn said after Saturday's 5-4 overtime win in Toronto. “I just like the way we gutted it out and found a way to win, because the only stat I care about -- and we all care about -- right now is winning.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NHL Network, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East/Ontario/Pacific (Edmonton), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (19-15-4): Center Ryan Strome had only one goal in 18 games entering the break but has notched three in the past two contests after scoring twice as part of a four-point outing against the Maple Leafs. Strome was acquired from Edmonton 13 months ago and went on to score 18 of his career-high 19 goals in 63 games with New York. “He does a lot of things, he’s got a great brain,” Quinn said. “When he’s playing with a little bit of an edge to him, and a pace, and he doesn’t overthink it, he’s a really good player.”
ABOUT THE OILERS (20-17-4): Edmonton's offense remains overly reliant on the superb tandem of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have 22 goals each and rank 1-2 in scoring in the league with 63 and 61 points, respectively. The duo played starring roles in Edmonton's 4-1 victory at New York on Oct. 12, combining for all three third-period goals as Draisaitl scored twice after assisting on McDavid's tiebreaking tally. McDavid also had an assist in that contest and has five goals and 11 points in seven matchups versus the Rangers.
1. The Oilers are 2-for-15 on the power play over the last five games.
2. Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist is 1-5-2 with a 3.63 goals-against average on the road this season.
3. The Oilers recalled D William Lagesson and F Kailer Yamamoto from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League.
PREDICTION: Oilers 3, Rangers 2