McDavid, Draisaitl help unbeaten Oilers defeat Rangers 4-1
NEW YORK (AP) — Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers aren’t satisfied with their strong start. They know they can improve.
McDavid scored the tiebreaking goal and Leon Draisaitl had two goals and an assist, all in the third period, and the Edmonton Oilers beat the New York Rangers 4-1 Saturday for their season-opening fifth straight win.
“It’s nice to be 5-0 but we have to keep getting better,” said McDavid, who also had an assist. “I thought we were really effective as a line tonight. There’s a few times we tried to force plays, turned the puck over a little bit in the first (period).”
Oscar Klefbom had a goal and an assist, and Mike Smith stopped 20 shots to help Edmonton improve to 5-0-0 for the first time in 34 years and become the first NHL team to win its first five games after trailing in each.
“We got scored on early tonight and a lot of time in the game left to come back,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “We don’t think about that, we think about playing well. First period was all right, but I thought we got a lot better as the game went on. ... We just went about our business and found a way to win.”
Edmonton completed a sweep of the New York area teams. The Oilers beat the Islanders 4-1 on Tuesday night, and then edged New Jersey 4-3 in a shootout Thursday night.
Rookie Kaapo Kakko had his first NHL goal for the Rangers, who had won their first two games but were playing for the first time in a week. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 23 saves.
“As the game went on we just got sloppier and sloppier,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “We played with the wrong pace. ... At the end of the day, we weren’t good all the way up and through lineup.”
With the score 1-1, Edmonton took the lead when McDavid was credited with a power-play goal at 9:44 of the third period. His pass for Neal in front deflected off Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba’s leg and past Lundqvist. It was McDavid’s fourth of the season.
Draisaitl made it 3-1, knocking in a loose puck in front of Lundqvist with 6:42 left. Lundqvist appeared to believe he had smothered the puck, but officials didn’t blow a whistle. Draisaitl kept whacking at the puck.
The Rangers pulled Lundqvist for an extra skater, but Draisaitl got an empty-netter, his fourth goal of the season, with 15 seconds left to seal the win.
“I don’t think we were at our best, halfway through the second maybe,” Smith said. “The third period was our best period. We just kind of stuck with an ugly game for the first two periods. ... We’re finding ways to get it done and that’s what it’s about really.”
Trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes, the Oilers picked up their intensity in the second period. Draisaitl hit a goalpost 27 seconds into the period, and Edmonton had a goal waved off because Zack Kassian skated into Lundqvist in the crease.
However, Klefbom tied it at 6:45 as he got the puck off faceoff, skated to his right and fired a shot from the center of the blue line through traffic that beat Lundqvist for his first.
Lundqvist was caught out of position up out of his crease when the puck deflected to Neal in front, but the goalie made a diving save with his glove.
The Rangers had a 5-on-3 advantage for about 40 seconds in the first period, but couldn’t convert.
Kakko, the second overall pick in June’s NHL draft, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with 1:32 left in the opening period. On a give-and-go with Ryan Strome on an odd-man rush, Kakko got the puck back and went forehand to backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawled Smith for his first.
“Huge moment for him,” Quinn said. “Good to see for a lot of reasons.”
NOTES: Greg McKegg, signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, made his Rangers debut. McKegg was a healthy scratch the first two games but slotted into the open spot on the fourth line following the trade of Vladislav Namestnikov to Ottawa this week. ... The teams conclude the season series at Edmonton on Dec. 31. The Oilers have won three straight meetings after losing the previous five. ... Neal was held off the scoresheet after he had seven goals in the previous three games.
Oilers: At Chicago on Monday to complete a four-game trip.
Rangers: At New Jersey on Thursday night.
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