EDMONTON, Alberta — For the second game in a row, the Rangers trailed their opponent by two goals after the first period, but the Edmonton Oilers have much more at stake than the New Jersey Devils.
That may explain why after the Rangers rallied to tie the score early in the third period Monday night, the Oilers kept coming until they won in overtime, 3-2.
Leon Draisaitl scored his 42nd goal on an assist from Connor McDavid 25 seconds into overtime to lift the Oilers (31-31-7), who pulled to within five points of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Rangers (28-28-13) also have 69 points, but they are 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
In games decided in overtime, the Rangers have lost nine straight. They are 1-9 in overtime and 6-4 in shootouts this season.
“I wish I had an answer,’’ coach David Quinn said of his team’s struggles in overtime. “If I did, I’d fix it . . . It’s three-on-three. It’s tough to come up with a formula. There are some things you can absolutely, conceptually have in your game, but there’s a lot of room there, there’s a lot of bounces, and when you do take an offensive chance, a lot of times the other team will get one if you don’t capitalize on it. So that’s just the story of three-on-three, in a lot of ways.’’
The Rangers’ Brett Howden scored at 1:33 of the third period to tie it at 2-2. It was his first goal since Nov. 12. Howden hadn’t scored in his previous 35 games.
Goaltender Alexander Georgiev (30 saves), playing for the first time since a 1-0 loss in Dallas last Tuesday, had to be brilliant to get the game to overtime. Before that happened, though, the Rangers had to kill a tripping penalty to Brady Skjei with 2:57 left in regulation. Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit the crossbar on the power play with 2:34 left.
Georgiev, starting for the ninth time in the last 16 games, allowed two early goals as the Rangers fell behind 2-0. McDavid beat him on the glove side with a wrist shot at 6:08 for a power-play goal. Matt Benning scored at 8:02 when his shot went in as Georgiev was knocked to the ice. He got up screaming to the referees that goaltender interference should be called.
The goal originally was waved off, but the Oilers challenged, and after reviewing the replay, the officials determined that it was teammate Freddie Claesson’s stick that knocked Georgiev to the ice, not Zack Kassian’s.
“Their guy initially hit Georgie in the head with his stick, but our guy followed it with his version of hitting him in the head with a stick and that probably had more impact on the goal than anything,’’ Quinn said. “Listen, when they go to review, at least it’s an educated call, and you live with it.’’
The comeback began with a goal by Brendan Lemieux — his second with the Rangers — that cut the deficit to 2-1 at 11:29 of the second period.
The goal came after Lemieux had a fight with Jujhar Khaira. Lemieux had an assist on Howden’s goal, giving him a “Gordie Howe hat trick’’ of a goal, an assist and a fight, which he agreed is a good accomplishment for him.
“I’m not going to fight every night, but it shows physicality and scoring ability,’’ he said. “So yeah, I guess so.’’