EDMONTON — Michael Grabner is earning his contract with the New York Rangers.
Grabner scored a pair of goals to put him at 10 on the season as the Rangers won their second game in as many nights, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to go out there and play my role,” said Grabner, who only had nine goals in 80 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season before signing with the Rangers in the summer as a free agent.
“It’s just been going good from the start, from the first game on. I think that’s a big part of hockey, when you get confidence, it seems to be going out there and not thinking and good things happen.”
Dan Girardi also scored for the Rangers (12-4-0), who beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Saturday.
“I thought we came out real well, moved the puck, got some quality opportunities and scored a couple of goals,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.
“After that, there was no doubt they had a real strong push and I thought for the most part our goaltender made some big saves and our guys battled through back-to-back games. “
Andrej Sekera replied for the Oilers (9-6-1), who have lost three games in a row and gone 2-5-1 in their last eight.
“That confidence and swagger we had in the first eight games seems to get away from us a little bit,” said Oilers forward Milan Lucic. “We haven’t had it in the last eight games.
“Things aren’t always going to go smoothly. We have to stick together as a team and go back to having fun playing the right way.”
The Oilers once again dug an early hole for themselves, as Grabner got to a big rebound and scored on Cam Talbot 1:20 in. It is the fifth time in the last seven games that the Oilers have allowed a goal in the first two minutes of the first period.
New York made it 2-0 later in the first period with an extra attacker on for a delayed penalty when Girardi redirected a Kevin Hayes pass past Talbot from in front of the net.
Edmonton got one back with 1:15 left in the opening period when Connor McDavid spotted a pinching Sekera swooping past the Rangers net and he deflected a shot past New York goalie Antti Raanta.
The Rangers made it 3-1 with five minutes left in the second when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins coughed up the puck at the New York blue line. Talbot made the initial stop, but Grabner was able to swat in the rebound for his 10th.
Edmonton had good pressure in the third period, but Raanta shut the door, making 38 saves.
“We had a lot of players missing in action,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday. The Rangers play the third game of a four-game trip in Vancouver, while the Oilers start a three-game road swing in Anaheim.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Rangers won 5-3 in the previous meeting on Nov. 3 in New York… Raanta got the start in net for the Rangers after Henrik Lundqvist played in Calgary… The Rangers were without forward Chris Kreider, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Flames… New York already has 10 players with at least 10 points on the season… Forward Zack Kassian returned to the Edmonton lineup after missing the last three games with an injury… Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot played his 500th NHL game.