EDMONTON — After losing a low-scoring game in Vancouver on Wednesday night, the Rangers fell to the Oilers in a high-scoring affair on Friday night, 7-5.
In a game in which they never led but were able to tie at 1-1, 3-3 and 5-5, the Rangers lost despite a determined push late in the third period, which began tied at 3 and ended with six more goals.
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With Ted Purcell in the box for cross-checking Ryan McDonagh from behind with 1:53 to go, Rick Nash tied the score at 5 during a six-on-four at 18:14, but 12 seconds later, Taylor Hall beat Antti Raanta on a rush. Raanta had replaced Henrik Lundqvist in the third period.
Said Lundqvist: “It’s my job to clean up the mistakes. But obviously we need to understand from where goals are scored, and that’s in front of the net. Again, it’s my responsibility to come up with that extra save to find ways to win hockey games. Right now, we’re finding ways to lose hockey games.”
Said Alain Vigneault, “We made some uncharacteristic decisions, especially in front of our net. We made too many individual mistakes that led to grade-A opportunities.”
An empty-netter by former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski with 37.7 seconds left — on a shot that went nearly the length of the ice after Derick Brassard was stopped by Anders Nilsson — gave him a hat trick and sent the crowd home happy. Hall scored twice for the Oilers and Brassard had two goals for the Rangers.
The loss dropped the Rangers to 2-6-1 in their last nine games.
“We’ve got 24 hours to think this through and find a way to compete harder, find a way to battle harder, find a way to win a hockey game,’’ McDonagh said. “Right now we’ve got to find a way. It would have felt good to come out of this one with a point or two, but we didn’t. We lose our checks, we lose our assignments, we can’t afford to do that.”
After a 35-minute ceremony that included raising a banner to the rafters for former Oilers coach and executive and current Rangers president Glen Sather, the Rangers were almost run out of the building in the first period and fell behind 3-1.
With Chris Kreider in the box for interference on Leon Draisaitl at 5:23, the Oilers took the lead. Lundqvist couldn’t quite pin down a loose puck at the left post and Korpikoski’s whack slid the puck under him at 6:35.
Mats Zuccarello tied the score with his 12th goal, only his second in 10 games. McDonagh had kept the puck in at the point, and Kreider found Zuccarello in front. The secondary assist went to Dylan McIlrath, his first NHL point in his 14th game.
After a giveaway behind the net, with Dom Moore and McDonagh motionless at the right post, Korpikoski had room for a shot in the top corner that beat Lundqvist at 15:47.
Only 70 seconds later, Purcell finished a passing sequence off a rush with another high wrister over Lundqvist. Dan Girardi, playing with a sore knee, was on ice for all three Oilers goals, which came on 15 shots. “We have to rectify this right now,’’ Girardi said. “We played some solid minutes, but it got away from us.”
Kreider closed the gap to 3-2 only 53 seconds into the second period. Lundqvist wrapped the puck around the boards and Zuccarello fed Kreider for a five-hole backhander, only his second goal in 12 games. Lundqvist was credited with an assist, his first since Dec. 16, 2014, in Calgary.
After Nash won a battle on the boards, he fed Brassard for a wrister that went past Nilsson on the stick side to tie the score at 3 at 8:44.
Hall, left alone in the slot, scored on a backhander 18 seconds into the third period to give Edmonton a 4-3 lead.
Lundqvist had no chance on the next goal. The Rangers watched a play along the right wall, defenseman Darrell Nurse drifted alone in front and Hall found him with a pass for a 5-3 lead at 2:40.
Raanta then replaced Lundqvist for the second time this season. Lundqvist had been pulled in a 5-1 loss to Montreal at the Garden on Nov. 25.
Nash ripped a wrister that rang the left post and laid in the crease for Brassard, who poked the puck in for his second goal at 6:28. That brought the Rangers within 5-4.