EDMONTON – Henrik Lundqvist didn’t have to do much for his fifth shutout of the season.
Lundqvist only needed to make 16 saves as the Rangers won their third game in a row, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 on Sunday.
“It was not a very tough game for me, but they had a few chances here and there,” Lundqvist said. “We were patient. We felt like they were playing not to make any mistakes and were staying back. They were waiting for us to make mistakes so that they could counter. But we did a good job of playing a smart hockey game. We just stuck with the game plan and let our chances come to us. I thought we were the better team the whole game, but at the same time it was still a one-goal game for most of it.”
Dan Girardi and Carl Hagelin scored for the Rangers (14-10-4), who have picked up victories in five of their past seven games.
The Rangers played on back-to-back nights with Lundqvist getting the start in both.
The Swedish netminder said he was eager to get back into the net so soon after Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Canucks in Vancouver.
“It feels the last couple weeks I haven’t played much, so I was happy when they told me I was going in again,” he said. “I am used to getting into a mental flow where you don’t have to work to get focused, but when you don’t play as much you have to work a little harder at that.”
Rick Nash picked up an assist on the game winner, running his point streak to a career-high 10 games- the longest active point streak in the NHL this season.
“He’s been one of our most consistent performers on both ends of the rink,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. “In this league you have to be able to score, but you also have to be able to defend and he has done a really good job in both ends of the ice for us.”
The Oilers (7-19-5), who have lost four in a row and 15 of their past 16 games overall, sit in last place in the NHL.
“When you put only 16 shots on net, it’s tough to win and it showed tonight,” said Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins said the Rangers put up a bit of a brick wall.
“It was a tough night it seemed to get anything going,” he said. “It was one of those, it looked like a game where you’re watching paint dry. Both teams were being fairly responsible. The Rangers a few years ago took on that mentality of shot blocking where nothing was ever going to get through. It seemed like they were able to block a ton of shots and we weren’t able to get them through.”
The Rangers went up 1-0 with four minutes left to play in the opening period as a Girardi pass through the crease hit the skate of Oiler Mark Arcobello and went straight into the net past Edmonton starter Ben Scrivens.
It was the 21st time in 31 games the Oilers allowed the first goal of the game.
The Rangers had seven first-period shots to Edmonton’s five. New York had the bulk of the Grade A chances in the second period, but Scrivens was solid to keep his team in it. He was lucky once when Mats Zuccarello shot a puck over the net, but also came across the crease to make a huge pad save on a Ryan McDonagh rebound late in the period.
Despite a limited amount of action around his net, Lundqvist did make a point-blank save on Oilers defender Jeff Petry with four minutes to play in the middle frame to keep his team ahead.
The shots favoured the Rangers by a 15-10 margin after 40 minutes.
Lundqvist bailed out his defenders with another big save in close on Taylor Hall with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third period.
Edmonton pulled Scrivens in the late stages, but it worked against them as Hagelin scored an empty-net goal.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday as the Rangers travel to Calgary to face the Flames and the Oilers begin a two-game road swing against the Arizona Coyotes.