Rangers 4 Oilers 2
EDMONTON — Desperate for a win, the New York Rangers took advantage of the Edmonton Oilers’ struggling offence.
Ales Kotalik had a goal and two assists as the Rangers ended a four-game road losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Oilers on Thursday.
Marian Gaborik, Christopher Higgins and Ryan Callahan also scored for the Rangers (10-6-1) who had just two wins in their previous eight games.
“We needed a win of any kind period, not just a road win,” said Rangers starting goalie Stephen Valiquette.
“Just like Edmonton we have been reeling a little bit and we knew this game was an opportunity to perhaps turn things around. We would have been in deep trouble with (head coach John Tortorella) if we had recorded another loss here.”
Tortorella said the Rangers are getting back to the way they played at the start of the season, when they reeled off seven straight wins after losing their opener to Pittsburgh.
“I think the last two or three games that the effort has been there, we just found a way to score some goals tonight,” he said. “Getting three on the power play really helped.
“Our forechecking was much better and we played smart through the neutral zone. We found a way to score a few goals and win a game.”
Lubomir Visnovsky and Mike Comrie replied for the Oilers (7-8-1) who have now lost three in a row and six of their last seven.
“We didn’t seem to get involved early enough,” said Oilers assistant captain Steve Staios. “Any time we got any momentum, we ended up taking penalties. We were back on our heels and we didn’t force the play much. We’re obviously not playing up to our capabilities.”
The Oilers haven’t outshot an opponent since the first game of the season. They were outshot 39-28 against the Rangers.
“We’ve got guys who are supposed to be scorers that don’t put the puck anywhere near the net, that the disappointing part,” Oilers coach pat Quinn said.
“You don’t get many goals if you don’t shoot it.
“We’re going to try and get some change. A change in body language if that’s what it takes. We’re going to wear our goalie out (in practice) too.”
It doesn’t get any easier from here for the Oilers, who will take their 1-5-0 road record into a stretch of 11 road games in their next 16.
After a slow start to the game by both teams, the Rangers broke the deadlock with just under five minutes to play as Matt Gilroy made a nice feed trough traffic to Higgins, who put just his second of the season past Edmonton starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
Edmonton’s best chance came on a scramble in front of the New York net with three minutes remaining, but neither Ales Hemsky or Dustin Penner could find the puck before Valiquette could get back into position.
New York went up 2-0 midway through the second on a power play as Michael Del Zotto sent the puck towards the net and Callahan deflected it over Khabibulin’s shoulder.
Edmonton finally got on the board with five minutes to play in the second period as Hemsky deftly slipped the puck to Visnovsky on the point and he charged in and snuck a backhander between Valiquette and the post.
It didn’t take the Rangers long to restore the two-goal cushion. They scored another power play goal less than two minutes later as Gaborik fed Kotalik at the point and he unleashed a slapshot for his second point of the night.
New York took a three-goal lead seven minutes into the third with Fernado Pisani in the box serving a double minor for a high-stick on Del Zotto. Kotalik’s screened shot from the point squirted past Khabibulin and Gaborik guided it in from the side of the net for his 12th of the season.
Edmonton got that goal back three minutes later as Comrie spun around and took a shot that snuck through Valiquette’s legs to make it 4-2.
The Rangers conclude a three-game trip in Calgary on Saturday while Edmonton embarks on a five-game road swing, beginning Sunday in Colorado.
Notes: Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff missed the game with a shoulder injury and is expected to be out 7-10 daysa Also scratched for Edmonton were defenceman Ladislav Smid (flu) and J.F. Jacques (back spasms)a The Oilers did have a couple players return, however, as forward Mike Comrie came back from a long battle with the flu and defenceman Steve Staios returned from missing 12 games with a concussiona Edmonton is hopeful all-star blueliner Sheldon Souray will also be back from his concussion in the not so distant future as he was cleared to begin skating this weeka Steve Valiquette got the start for the Rangers in net with Henrik Lundqvist plagued by a stiff right thigha Also out for New York were forwards Donald Brashear (upper body) and Dane Byers. Enver Lisin rejoined the team after missing the last game with a foot injurya The Oilers beat New York 3-2 in a shootout in their only meeting last season.