Oilers fall 4-2 to Rangers Thursday night
Zack Stortini snaps the puck on New York's Stephen Valiquette Thursday night at Rexall Place. The Rangers won the game 4-2. (photo: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
by Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
The flu has been hitting the Oilers hard this season, but it was penalties that did a number on them Thursday night. The club took five consecutive penalties in the latter half of their game vs. the Rangers, and the visitors took advantage by firing home three powerplay goals enroute to a 4-2 win.
Lubomir Visnovsky and Mike Comrie scored Edmonton's two goals, while goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
stopped 35 shots in the loss.
Two minutes into this rare match-up, Edmonton's Steve MacIntyre
took a hooking penalty and New York benefited from the game's first powerplay. The Rangers managed two shots on the initial man-advantage but were denied by goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
Minutes later, the powerplay tables turned in Edmonton's favour when Aaron Voros took consecutive hooking and high-sticking minors. The Oil managed two shots on the first opportunity but zero on the second, extending the scoreless game.
With five minutes left in the frame and the Rangers swarming Khabibulin, Christopher Higgins got one on the board. The Oilers goalie scrambled to cover the puck, but the visiting winger managed to snap it into the net to put his club up 1-0.
The Oilers were gifted another powerplay late in the period, but the club struggled and closed 20 minutes down one goal and 14 shots to eight.
630 CHED's Dan Tencer talks to Tom Gilbert after the first period
The Rangers closed in on 20 shots in the first five minutes of the second but were promptly sent back on the penalty kill when Enver Lisin earned two minutes for hooking. Although the Oilers tested starter Stephen Valiquette with three powerplay attempts, the back-up resisted the assault to maintain his club's lead.
At the game's midway point, Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano
was penalized for tripping up former teammate Ales Kotalik at center ice. Cogliano wouldn't sit out long, however, as only 31 seconds into his penalty, Ryan Callahan tipped in Mike Del Zotto's shot to double New York's lead.
Valiquette's perfect performance extended until the final five minutes of the frame, at which point Lubomir Visnovsky swept up the right wing. From a sharp angle, the Oilers defenceman tucked the puck inside the far post to get the home team back within one.
Less than a minute after the goal, however, Fernando Pisani was assigned Edmonton's third penalty of the game and, for the second time, New York capitalized. Poised at the point, Kotalik targetted his former club with a slapper that made it through Khabibulin's legs.
Edmonton's penalty woes contiued into the third period, as a late tripping minor to Tom Gilbert
ensured the club would be down one man, two goals, and 10 shots to start the final frame.
Intermission didn't interrupt Edmonton's stretch of bad luck, unfortunately. Early in the third, Pisani earned a double high-sticking minor for nicking Del Zotto and the Rangers embarked on a four-minute powerplay. Although the Oilers killed most of the lengthy man-advantage, the Rangers increased their lead to 4-1 when Marian Gaborik nudged his team's 35th shot across the line.
Three minutes later, the Oilers got that one back. An impressive solo effort by Patrick O'Sullivan to wrangle the puck deep in the Rangers zone concluded in a perfect pass to Mike Comrie. The Oilers center, who has been battling the flu for almost two weeks, promptly surprised Valiquette with a wrister to get Edmonton within two.
A fifth consecutive Oilers penalty, this time to captain Ethan Moreau, gave the Rangers yet another advantage shortly after the goal, but Khabibulin made a pair of big saves to keep his club in the game.
Head Coach Pat Quinn opted for six skaters in the final two minutes, but the club couldn't close the gap with an extra attacker and suffered a 4-2 loss.
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