Rangers shoot for second victory against winless Oilers
NEW YORK — It took four games for the New York Rangers‘ David Quinn to get his first win as an NHL coach, and when it finally happened, his team presented him with the puck to mark the achievement.
There may not be any celebratory pucks for getting the second win, but Quinn and the Rangers hope they do not have a long wait for the next victory.
The Rangers get a chance to follow up their first win of the season Saturday afternoon when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
New York hired Quinn from Boston University to oversee its first rebuilding attempt after missing the playoffs last season for only the second time in 13 seasons since the infamous 2004-05 lockout. Quinn replaced Alain Vigneault, who coached a mostly veteran team for the previous five seasons.
The Rangers expected some growing pains but did not think it would take four games to get the first win. They nearly did not get it Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, but defenseman Brendan Smith scored the tying goal with 2:39 remaining in regulation and fellow blue-liner Brady Skjei scored 37 seconds into overtime to turn a potential one-goal loss into a 3-2 victory.
Those goals came on a night when Henrik Lundqvist withstood a barrage of shots at times and notched his 432nd career win while turning in a 41-save performance.
“The players made me do that (realize this was the first win) when they brought me in the locker room and gave me the puck, so that was pretty special,” Quinn said. “I wish I could divide the puck into about 45 pieces because it was certainly a great win for us. We needed to feel good about something and obviously, Hank (Lundqvist) stood tall for two periods. He gave us a chance tonight for sure.”
Quinn’s first win marked the first time a Rangers defensemen scored the tying goal in regulation and the overtime winner since March 24, 2014, vs. the Arizona Coyotes when Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh did it. It also came on a night when the Rangers consistently allowed odd-man rushes through 40 minutes, including one on San Jose’s second goal.
“We kept getting behind them and establishing the offensive zone and not forcing plays,” Quinn said. “That’s been a problem for us. The first three games of the season, our problem is we create our own problems by forcing plays. I thought the third period we started doing things we’re going to have to do to have success.”
The defense gave up those rushes while Kevin Shattenkirk sat out as a healthy scratch. The benching was a one-game thing as Shattenkirk is expected to return Saturday after accumulating a minus-4 rating in the first three games.
While the Rangers avoided their first 0-4 start since the 1998-99 season, the Oilers remained the league’s only team without a point. The Oilers began the season with a 5-2 loss to New Jersey last Saturday in Sweden and then dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins Thursday.
Connor McDavid scored the first goal 3:43 into the game against the Bruins, but the Oilers allowed consecutive power-play goals and three in the first period. McDavid has been involved in Edmonton’s first three goals of the season, and although it is two games in there are concerns about others not being able to get prime scoring chances.
“The Grade A chances are only coming from three or four individuals, and it has to get an awful lot deeper than that for us to have offensive success,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “That can come from the blue line or wingers on different lines. That could come from the blue line. It seems when we get a little more desperate or fall behind, we find a player or two offensively, but we need them early in the game as well.”
McLellan’s call for offense early on is correct as the Oilers try to avoid their third 0-3 start in the last five seasons. The Oilers allowed four goals in the first period in their first two games combined and have led for a total of 5:37 so far.
“Any team that can get off to a good start puts themselves in a good position,” McLellan said. “We’re 0-2 right now, we’re not happy about that but we’ve got to keep pushing and we’ll have a big game Saturday against the Rangers.”
The Rangers are on a five-game winning streak against the Oilers since taking a 7-5 loss Dec. 11, 2015, in Edmonton. It is New York’s longest win streak against Edmonton in team history.