EDMONTON, Alberta — The Rangers refuse to slow down.
Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere scored in a penalty shootout on Friday night to cap off a brave comeback to clinch a 5-4 victory over the Oilers at Rogers Place. The Rangers rallied for their seventh straight win by scoring three unanswered goals in the second and third periods to rally from a three-goal deficit they had fallen into for the first 20 minutes.
It marks the first time in franchise history that the Rangers have posted multiple winning streaks of more than seven games in the same season.
The Oilers came to the Garden in November and rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3, and now the Rangers have essentially done the same thing with Edmonton in their building.
“I think we owed them a little bit,” said Adam Fox, who on his 25th birthday assisted on Chris Kreider’s goal that cut Edmonton’s lead to 4-2 in the second period and also assisted on the power play goal. Mika Zibanejad’s equalizer in the third. “You are never happy wasting a track. It was good to get a little revenge from the last time we played against them.”
Head coach Gerard Gallant walked into the Rangers dressing room between the first and second periods, with the club trailing by three, and told his team: “We are not going to lose this game.” The first period was deflating, but the Rangers kept pressing and getting back into the game turn by turn.
Things could have continued to go south when the Rangers found themselves up for a penalty less than six minutes into the second period, but Fox gave Kreider the opportunity. Kreider’s pass, intended for Zibanejad, was blocked, but it came back to him. Kreider then buried it at 6:26 of the second period for his second goal of the game.
Lafreniere, who has played some of his best hockey games in the last 10 games, cut the Oilers’ lead to one by scoring from Kakko’s right snap circle at 1:36 of the third period.
Rangers stayed the course and when they won a 5-on-3 power play later in the frame, they were unfazed. Zibanejad scored one at home to tie the score at 4-4 with 6:50 remaining in regulation.
“We said the game is far from over, you have 40 minutes,” Gallant said. “It’s the new NHL, it’s not like the game is going to end. We fought hard and found a way.”
The Oilers, who were forced to outfit 17 skaters because Klim Kostin was ill and they had no extras due to salary cap limitations, came away with an apparent chip on their shoulders. They had their previous two games against the lowly Canadiens and Red Wings. However, more and more space began to open up for Rangers as the game progressed, which is similar to how the first meeting between the two teams played out, except this time, Rangers prevailed.
A combination of some defensive errors and a couple of difficult goals allowed by Igor Shesterkin pushed the Rangers to a 4-1 hole late in the first period. However, based on what was said in the dressing room after the game, Rangers never thought they were out of the game and never gave up on their number one goalkeeper.
“Some of those goals, I mean, they’re hitting it head-on, there’s a guy shooting just off the hash marks, it’s up to us,” Fox said of Shesterkin’s performance. “We know what he is capable of. He saved us there when he was 4-1 with that chance right in front of him and he kept playing well in overtime and in the third as well. We know that his confidence will not be shaken. We also owed him a little, after some breakdowns ”.