EDMONTON, Alberta - If this is how they'll be playing without center Derick Brassard, who was diagnosed with mumps on Sunday, the Rangers may need some special elixir to keep winning.
During Sunday night's 2-0 win in which Henrik Lundqvist had to make only 16 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, the Rangers managed to earn two points against the Oilers (7-19-5), who have lost 15 of 16 games.
The game was far different from their 5-1 dispatching of the talented Canucks on Saturday night, but the Rangers were pleased to chalk up their third straight win. "We weren't creating a lot of offense, but we weren't giving them much either," Marc Staal said. "We're not going to score five goals a game, but we'd like to get more than one. Back to back, you've gotta be smart. We kept it sleepy and found a way to win."
Dan Girardi's first-period deflection off Mark Arcobello's skate was the game-winner for the Rangers. Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter with 21.3 seconds left in regulation.
The Rangers (14-10-4) had only 22 shots on Ben Scrivens but blocked 21 shots.
Lundqvist, who had played one game in the last 11 days, played a back-to-back for the first time this season. He said he didn't have to work really hard "physically, but a game like this is more about being ready mentally. All it takes is one really bad decision and it's a tie game. It was not a very tough game for me, but they had a few chances here and there."
Brassard's absence, for at least Tuesday night's game and likely more, caused changes on the two top lines. Chris Kreider, on the fourth line for one game, was installed on the left side of Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis, where J.T. Miller (three goals in five games) had been. Kreider had three shots and four hits. Miller was in Brassard's spot, centering Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello, and was not as effective. Tanner Glass, a healthy scratch Saturday, was on the fourth line.
Said Alain Vigneault, "We got in fairly late last night and we did what we needed to do to win a road game, which was to make high-percentage plays."
Twenty-four hours after the Rangers raced to a 3-0 lead in the first period against the Canucks, they waltzed through large swaths of the first 20 minutes. Finally, Nash passed to Girardi, who glided down the side and slid the puck toward the crease. Zuccarello whiffed, but the puck glanced off Arcobello's skate and in at 16:04. That extended Nash's point streak to a career-high 10 games.
Girardi's second goal of the season was the third by a Rangers defenseman in two games. Staal and Ryan McDonagh scored Saturday.
The Rangers' legs seemed to falter as the second period wore down, and Lundqvist had to stop several shots, including Jeff Petry's wraparound.
"We had a couple breakdowns, for sure, and Hank made some good saves," McDonagh said. "Ultimately we did enough little things and made enough plays to get ourselves a win."