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Rangers hope to keep rolling vs. Oilers (Nov 11, 2017)

NEW YORK — By NHL standards, the New York Rangers own a winning record.

After an extremely slow start, the Rangers are on a five-game winning streak, putting them above .500.

New York will attempt to keep the streak going Saturday afternoon when they host the Edmonton Oilers, who also are trying to get something going after an underwhelming start.

Two weeks ago, the Rangers were off to an ugly 3-7-2 start following a 5-4 loss at Montreal. New York gave up the first three goals in a span of 5:31 in the opening period in that loss, and despite making the score respectable, coach Alain Vigneault described the record as “alarming.”

Since then, New York is rolling by winning five games decided by two goals or fewer. The Rangers have not been outshot in any game since that night in Montreal and are 6-for-16 on the power play.

New York had outscored foes 22-14 during that streak, as 10 different players scored goals and eight players recorded at least four points.

New York kept it going with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night, upping its record to 8-7-2 and 6-4-2 at home.

Jimmy Vesey scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves.

“We are confident,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. “We are starting to win some games. We know how close it can go the other way and we’ve been working hard all year to get us in position to win these types of hockey games. We don’t take it for granted, absolutely not. We have to keep on working and keep grabbing points when we are on a roll like this.”

Pavel Buchnevich and Rick Nash scored the other New York goals and both players are rolling of late. Buchnevich has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his last seven games while Nash has three goals and three assists in his last six.

Lundqvist won five straight and owns a .925 save percentage since the second period of New York’s 6-4 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 31.

“I’m feeling better and better, but it goes hand-in-hand with the structure in front of me,” Lundqvist said. “I think we help each other right now where I try to give them confidence and they help me to play my game. I can focus a lot on the shooter and be a little more aggressive when I feel like we’re in the right place. That’s our job, to help each other to raise our level.

“It’s something we needed to do, and I feel like the last week and a half we’re moving in the right direction. We’re back in the race and we just have to continue to push ourselves here. There’s no secret it’s so much more fun to be at the rink, go to practice, travel when you are winning, and guys are smiling. We’re going to continue to smile hopefully and get more wins.”

Lundqvist is expected to start Saturday and will be facing an opponent hoping to get on a similar roll.

Edmonton is 6-8-1 after getting its second straight overtime win against a New York area team.

On Tuesday, Connor McDavid scored the overtime winner from one knee to beat Thomas Greiss and give the Oilers a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders.

Two nights later, McDavid made a highlight-reel pass to Leon Draisaitl with 17 seconds remaining in the extra period in a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

“We feed off each other and we try and read the play,” said Draisaitl, who set up McDavid’s game-winner over the Islanders. “I just tried to get to the far post and (McDavid) made a heck of a play there.”

Those highlight-reel goals gave the Oilers consecutive wins for the first time all season and gives them a chance to win three straight road games for the first time since Jan. 21-26.

Draisaitl has four goals in his last seven games while McDavid owns seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last five.

Milan Lucic scored the tying goal early in the third period on a night when Edmonton gave up the first seven shots on goal.

“You have to create momentum any way you can. Sometimes it takes wins like these to get you to start feeling confident and get rolling,” Lucic said. “Hopefully we can keep building off of an effort like this.”