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Rangers continue solid play, beat Edmonton to sweep Canada road trip

The Rangers celebrate a goal against the Oilers

The Rangers celebrate a goal against the Oilers during the first period on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Edmonton, Alberta. Credit: The Canadian Press via AP / Jason Franson

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Rangers’ healing process after the trade deadline sell-off began with a trip to Western Canada. And there was plenty of healing.

Buoyed by the energy boost brought to the team by newcomers Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov, and benefiting from playing some less-than-elite competition, the Rangers have won their first three games after Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

The Blueshirts completed the sweep of the three-game trip through Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton with a 3-2 victory over the Oilers on Saturday night at Rogers Place.

Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Paul Carey scored for the Rangers and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 35 saves while earning his first NHL victory. He survived a late Oilers power play after Marc Staal got sent off for cross-checking Connor McDavid with 2:27 remaining as the Rangers improved their record to 30-30-6 (66 points).

“It felt unreal, and something like a dream,’’ Georgiev said of earning his first NHL win. “Amazing feeling, and I will remember it for my whole life.’’

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault gave most of the credit for the victory to Georgiev, who had played well in his first two starts, both losses.

“Our goalie made some big saves,’’ Vigneault said. “Our group found a way to win. It was back-to-back; it was three [games] in four [nights], we got in [to Edmonton] late last night. We hung on there a little bit, but I really liked the way we played. We came out, had good energy. That first goal gave us even more energy.’’

The Rangers are three points behind Columbus and Carolina, which are tied for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. They trail Florida by two points and are tied with the Islanders. The Blue Jackets and Hurricanes each have a game in hand on the Rangers and the Panthers have four games in hand.

Before the game, Vigneault joked that in the coaches’ meetings with the players about the game plan, the main message was, “We’d like to keep it under 50 shots tonight.’’

And with Henrik Lundqvist getting the night off, the Rangers did manage to bring their shots against way down. The Oilers were credited with only six shots in the first period and 14 in the second, and the Rangers, who got off to a third straight fast start, brought a 3-2 lead into the final period.

Kreider tapped in a pass from Zibanejad 54 seconds into the game to give the Rangers the early lead.

Georgiev, though he didn’t have the volume of work that Lundqvist had in the two previous games, nevertheless was sharp when he had to be before giving up a bad-angle goal by McDavid at 5:43 of the second period. Other than that, he was solid.

Zibanejad restored the Rangers’ lead with a power- play goal at 7:51 of the second period. The fourth line of Cody McLeod, Carey and David Desharnais was energetic all night, with Carey tipping a shot from McLeod through Cam Talbot to put the Rangers up 3-1.

But just when it looked as if the Rangers could settle down and get comfortable protecting a lead, Namestnikov was called for a penalty for hitting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. On the delayed penalty, McDavid skated into the zone and whipped a pass across for Nugent-Hopkins, who banged it in behind Georgiev at 16:48 to pull Edmonton back within one.

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