A late third-period goal cost the Edmonton Oilers in their last game against the New York Rangers this season.
In fact, late goals have cost Edmonton plenty of games since then. As they ready for their rematch with one of the NHL’s hottest team, a quick start is what the Oilers hope to achieve.
“If we can play [strong] for the full 20 in the opening period, I think we’ll set ourselves up well for the rest of the game,” Connor McDavid told the media following practice.
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As they look to get more momentum on offense, the Oilers will get some more players in their arsenal. Zack Kassian is back in the lineup Sunday, and other players are nearing a return as well. Matt Hendricks and Brandon Davidson are close, but Drake Caggiula and Kris Russell are still ways off.
Cam Talbot will start between the pipes for the Oilers, and Henrik Lundqvist is expected in goal for New York.
Keys to the Game
Maintaining momentum will be key for the Oilers tonight. Their lack of energy in the third period, as well as the first, has put them in tight positions and lost them hockey games. If they want to escape with a win, they’ll have to stand tall at critical times, and there are many ways to do just that.
The Rangers have one of the top offensive corps in the National Hockey League, and no one has been able to stop them of late. With 12 goals scored over the span of their last three games, New York has no problem putting pucks in the net. Not to mention, they lead the league with 4.1 goals per game on average.
If Edmonton wants to escape with a win, they’ll have to tighten up on the backcheck or outscore the Rangers. That means setting up plays, getting pucks to the net and putting big bodies out front to screen Lundqvist and deflect pucks.
In addition, the Oilers have the fourth-best penalty kill in the league, with over 88 percent success on the PK.
Lastly, with Edmonton having strong special team performances, they must utilize their units and make sure that they are on their top guard, on and off the advantage.