EDMONTON, Alberta — For the second straight game, the Rangers blew a multi-goal lead in the third period and were pushed to overtime. They lost their second consecutive game.
Leon Draisaitl buried the game-winner 3:27 into the extra period to secure a 6-5 win over the Rangers on Friday night when former Blueshirts captain Mark Messier and other Hockey Hall of Famers gathered at Rogers Place to watch 1994 Rangers Stanley Cup champion Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 Oilers jersey raised high into the rafters.
Top-line center Mika Zibanejad had sniped the Rangers’ fifth goal of the night off the rush at 7:18 into the third period to counterattack the Oilers’ three unanswered goals, setting a new season-high for the Blueshirts. Edmonton’s top-line center Connor McDavid undressed four white jerseys with less than three minutes remaining in regulation to force the extra period.
“I think we did a good job getting the puck behind their ‘D’ and having some O-zone shifts, I don’t think we had near enough of that in [the] third, like we had in the first and second” said Zibanejad, who also recorded a power-play goal in the second. “I think just got to keep going, really, not to be stupid, but we know they have to go forward. Take their momentum away and do a couple of shifts in their zones. Some zone time that will definitely help, and I don’t think we did enough of that in the third.”
Head coach Gerard Gallant prolonged Alexis Lafreniere’s demotion to the fourth line into Friday’s game after introducing the No. 1-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Draft to the assignment during Thursday’s practice in Vancouver.
Gallant has repeatedly said he wants more from Lafreniere since singling him out after the Rangers’ loss to the Flames on Oct. 25, but the coach has maintained that he isn’t trying to send the 20-year-old a message. Gallant said, however, if Lafreniere took it as a message, that would be “great.”
When asked specifically what he’s looking for from Lafreniere, Gallant wouldn’t say.
“That’s between me and Laffy,” he said. Lafreniere was able to log 9:02 minutes of ice time Friday.
After both teams had scored goals in the first period of the match, the Rangers appeared to have won the game with tallies from Chris Kreider, Kevin Rooney, and Zibanejad. The Rangers took a 4-2 lead in the second period on the power-play.
Winning puck battles in the neutral zone and playing the Oilers in tight, the Rangers controlled the pace of play for a majority of the game — until the final 5 ½ minutes of the second period when Edmonton’s red-hot power play took the ice.
Ryan Strome’s hooking penalty led to Jesse Puljujarvi cutting the Oilers’ deficit to two at 14:41. The Oilers were powered by their power play, which now stands at an impressive 15-for-30. After Zibanejad headed to the box for tripping McDavid just 24 seconds into the third period, Tyson Barrie netted the Oilers’ second man-advantage tally of the night 36 seconds later.
“We knew they were a powerful PP coming in and we want to do better than we did, for sure,” penalty-killer Jacob Trouba said.