NEW YORK (AP) — Cam Talbot had every reason to celebrate as the buzzer sounded and the Edmonton Oilers cemented their first win of the season.
Talbot stopped 23 shots against his former team, Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist to lead the Oilers past the New York Rangers 2-1 Saturday.
It was also Talbot’s first win over the Rangers, the team he helped reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014 as a backup to Henrik Lundqvist. Talbot was all smiles as the Oilers prepared to fly home after their season-opener in Sweden and two weeks overall on the road.
”This is right up there with the first win of my career,” said the 31-year-old goaltender, who spent two seasons with the Rangers before they traded him to the Oilers before the 2015-16 season. ”I hadn’t gotten the best of them yet so I was definitely looking forward to that and happy to get this out of the way.”
McDavid scored his second of the season at 6:23 of the third period, redirecting the puck past goalie Henrik Lundqvist on the power play with Rangers forward Vladislav Namesnikov in the penalty box for holding. Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had assists.
The Oilers lost their season opener 5-2 against the New Jersey Devils in Sweden before dropping their next game 4-1 on Thursday at Boston.
The 21-year-old McDavid, who has led the league in points each of the past two seasons, has points on all five Oilers goals in three games this season. The Edmonton captain, the Oilers’ first overall selection in the 2015 NHL draft, is one of 11 first-round picks on the roster.
”We’ve only scored five goals in three games. When offense isn’t there, you need to check. I thought we did a great job finally getting a win in a tough building,” McDavid said. ”It wasn’t the prettiest way to win a game but we needed to win a game.”
Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring for the Rangers with 7:11 to go in the first period. The fleet Zibanejad took a pass from defenseman Marc Staal and put the puck past the former Talbot. Defenseman Brendan Smith also assisted on Zibanejad’s first goal this season.
Zibanejad also twice rang shots off posts behind Talbot, who also denied the forward in the waning seconds..
”We came out really well in the first 10 minutes and kind of slowed down a little bit after that,” Zibanejad said. ”I thought we had plenty of chances to put this one away.”
Nugent-Hopkins tied it with 5:43 left, tapping a rebound past Lundqvist for his first this season. Defenseman Darnell Nurse – playing his 200th NHL game – and McDavid assisted.
The Rangers came out with purpose for the matinee against the previously winless Oilers. The home team was coming off its first win, a 3-2 overtime victory over San Jose on Thursday after opening the season with three losses under new coach David Quinn.
Lundqvist made 25 saves and the Rangers defense was steady for the most part. But timely scoring has emerged as a problem area as New York has started the season with four losses in five games.
Quinn – who made the leap from Boston University to the NHL when he replaced Alain Vigneault after last season – said he is seeking a fiercer approach when his squad has the puck.
”We have to have more tenacity offensively,” Quinn said. ”And we have to shoot more. Shooting creates opportunities.”
The Rangers had won each of their last five games against the Oilers, dating back to Dec. 15, 2015.
Staal, 31, the second-most senior player on the Rangers’ roster after Lundqvist, said he remained confident despite the result and was heartened by the team’s work ethic.
”I liked the start of our game. We had good legs and good pace,” he said. ”We just have to find a way as a team to be confident in these situations and close out a game.”
NOTES: The Rangers visit Edmonton on March 11 to complete the season series. … Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk returned to the lineup after he was healthy scratch in the previous game. … The Rangers scratched D Neal Pionk, D Tony DeAngelo and F Cody McLeod. … Edmonton scratched F Zach Kassian, F Alex Chiasson and D Matt Benning.
Rangers: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.
Oilers: Visit Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
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