Depending on what the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackers do on Sunday night, the New York Rangers could very well be in striking distance of a playoff spot.
New York is now only three points out of the last Eastern Conference playoff spot, as they completed a perfect Western Canada tour with a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night in Alberta. With their third consecutive win, the Rangers (30-3o-6) have achieved such a winning streak for the first time since mid-December.
Despite Henrik Lundqvist getting the night off, the Rangers still enjoyed some personal history, as Alexander Georgiev earned the first win of his NHL career. The rookie from Bulgaria didn’t have to make 50 stops, like Lundqvist did over his past two games, but he still got a workout in the third period. After facing a manageable 22 shots through the first two periods. Georgiev faced off against an Edmonton onslaught in the third, facing 15 shots and two Oiler power plays. However, he stopped everything he faced in the final two minutes, earning the monumental win.
Big save by Georgiev to preserve the lead. pic.twitter.com/iy2tlzSKDZ
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 4, 2018
The Rangers kept their streak alive with an immediate score, as Chris Kreider beat old comrade Cam Talbot for a goal in the opening minute, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 54 seconds in. It’s Kreider’s 12th of the season, and his first since returning from a long blood clot-related absence. John Gilmour, in another first, had first NHL helper on the secondary assist.
CHRIS KREIDER OPENS THE SCORING UP FOR THE RANGERS! pic.twitter.com/f1EkEPRTQS
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 4, 2018
Though the Rangers held Connor McDavid to literally nothing in the first period, the superstar found his legs in the second. From a tough angle, McDavid put one past Georgiev for his 30th of the season, and later found Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, coming off an injury of his own, for a flashy assist, both scores coming in the second period.
In between the McDavid show, however, the Rangers got the tallies they needed to keep their momentum rolling.
Rather than fold before a loud Oiler crowd, Mika Zibanejad scored a power play goal when Talbot was called for a delay of game to ensure the Rangers’ lead would not go quietly into the night. The fourth line also got some action in, as Paul Carey deflected a Cody McLeod shot in for the de facto winner. McLeod had a strong night, leading the Rangers with six shots.
The loss served as the third in the row for the Oilers (27-34-4). Talbot’s hard luck against the Rangers continued, as he fell to 0-4-0 against his old team.
If the Rangers truly wish to reinsert themselves into the playoff picture, they’ll have a huge opportunity on Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets (7:00 PM, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490