Lafrenière helps Rangers beat Oilers; claim first overall in the NHL
The New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers squared off in the only NHL game on the schedule. Going for their third straight win, the team played with urgency from the opening draw to the final buzzer.
When it was all said and done the Blueshirts picked up their 48th point of the season. That ties them with the Capitals but by way of their 22 wins, New York is at the top of the entire league.
“Twenty guys showed up and did a great job,” Gerard Gallant said afterwards. “The last two games (at home) has been great. They believe in our group, they hear the noise and it’s a lot of fun.”
Recap: Rangers 4 vs Oilers 1
In the first period, New York came out sharp by being quick on pucks. The Rangers dominated play for the majority of the opening stanza and were rewarded with a goal.
Ryan Lindgren, who was playing in his first game back from COVID protocol dumped the puck to the corner. Mikko Koskinen started to come out of his net to play it but was out-hustled by Ryan Strome. The centering feed wad slammed home by Alexis Lafrenière for a 1-0 at the 14:35 mark.
That was Lafrenière’s 8th of the season and second in three games. Per TSN’s StatsCentre:
Alexis Lafrenière is the 7th NYRangers winger to get at least 20 career goals before their 21st birthday. Others: Don Murdoch (35), Mike Allison (33), Tomas Sandstrom (29), Alex Kovalev (29), Troy Mallette (24), Kaapo Kakko (24)
Edmonton made a late push but Alexandar Georgiev made several solid saves. After the first 20, the Blueshirts outshot the Oilers 11-6 and also blocked nine.
“I thought we played well and eliminated their chances,” Zac Jones talked about the period and his role. “I was a little star-struck last year. Now it’s a business and I’m here to play hockey and help the team in anyway I can.”
Lafreniere adds to the Rangers lead
The second period started well for the Rangers with another great play by Lafrenière to extend the Rangers lead. Intercepting a puck in the neutral zone, the sophomore came into the zone with speed and then found Barclay Goodrow in the slot. Goodrow snapped it by Koskinen for his third goal and fourth point in three games.
“Just playing with [Strome and Goodrow], they always find a way to get me the puck in good areas,” Lafrenière said. “I’m just trying to shoot as much as I can and keep making plays.”
The Oilers had a little more zip in the middle frame. They were finally rewarded when Ryan McLeod redirected a Tyler Benson feed to cut the lead in half with 6 minutes left to play.
Gerard Gallant was then giving it to his charges for spending too much time in their own zone. New York would escape the period with a lead but the Oilers came on and outshot them 14-12.
Rangers seal the deal
The Rangers heeded Gallant’s instructions and did their best to keep the Oilers at bay. Of course, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were going to get their chances. However, when they did, Georgiev was big in goal and stopped all 14 shots he faced in the third period. That included a huge stop on McDavid with a flashing glove.
“I think a lot of credit should go to the defense, they cleared the way for me to see the puck,” Georgiev said. “The big difference from last year is sacrificing so much to do the little things to win games.”
Despite only getting five shots on net in the final frame, the Rangers scored twice.
First it was Chris Kreider 20th of the year on the power play just 3:52 in. A deflection of an Adam Fox point shot squeaked past Koskinen for a 3-1 lead.
The nail in the Oilers coffin came with a Fox chip up to Goodrow in the neutral zone. He fed Strome, who was looking for Lafrenière cutting in but the pass went off a defender’s skate for a 4-1 lead and the eventual final score.
“The last few nights has been a really good effort from top to bottom,” Strome said. “The rink’s buzzing. It’s a good feeling.”
- Alexandar Georgiev stopped 33 of 34 shots
- Ryan Strome was named the game’s first start with 1G, 2A
- Chris Kreider’s PPG gave him his 7th 20 goal season of his career
- Alexis Lafrenière finished with his 4th multi-point game of his career and a +3 rating
- Barclay Goodrow now has 3G and 2A in his last three games
- Zac Jones was solid again in 15:00 TOI, with 1 shot, 1 block, and 2 hits
Tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 4): Travel Day. No Practice.
Next Game: Thursday, January 6 at Vegas Golden Knights (10:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG 2, MSG+)
*Schedule subject to change
Has start to interview GM candidates. Canucks on trade approach and will Laine be traded again? Read more.