Two of the hottest teams and hottest offenses in hockey match up Friday when the New York Rangers visit the Edmonton Oilers.
The Rangers are on a six-game winning streak and an eight-game points streak (7-0-1), outscoring their opponents by a 39-22 margin over those eight games. New York has scored six goals in each of its last three games, marking the team’s longest six-goal streak since the 1988-89 season.
Edmonton saw an 11-game points streak (9-0-2) end with a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, but the Oilers picked up another point in Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
It was a hard-earned point for the Oilers, who had to overcome three two-goal deficits to force overtime despite outshooting Detroit by a 45-23 margin.
“We were a little bit sloppy in some of our details. … I thought there were a couple of moments within the game where we were the architects of our own chances against,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
Woodcroft cited two Detroit goals scored off faceoff wins in Edmonton’s end as well as special-teams play that did not perform as expected.
The Red Wings were 2-for-2 on the power play and the Oilers were 1-for-3, continuing Edmonton’s wide differential in special teams performance. The power-play unit is scoring at near-historic pace (31.1 percent), while the Oilers’ penalty-kill percentage (74.6 percent) is near the bottom of the league.
The Rangers are one of the NHL’s least-penalized teams, which could help neutralize the Oilers’ deadly power play. But New York might be one of the few teams that could rival Edmonton in a scoring duel, given how well Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are performing.
Both players are on five-game points streaks, with Zibanejad collecting nine points (seven goals, two assists) and Panarin 12 points (six goals, six assists). All of Panarin’s goals in the stretch have come in New York’s last two games, making him the fifth player in Rangers history to tally six goals in a two-game span.
New York forward Jimmy Vesey described Panarin and Zibanejad as “world-class players, and they can be game-breakers every night. So if one’s not going, the other one might be going that night, but (if they’re both scoring), we’re tough to beat.”
Of course, the Oilers have their own powerhouse duo in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid leads the NHL in goals (42) and points (99) and is on the verge of the sixth 100-point season of his eight-year career. With 31 goals and 49 assists over 53 games, Draisaitl is also on pace for his fourth 100-point season.
The Oilers have a seven-game points streak (4-0-3) on home ice, while the Rangers are 5-0-3 in their last eight road contests.
Edmonton has recently alternated goaltending starts between Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, so Skinner might be next to face the Rangers. Campbell stopped 19 of 23 shots against the Red Wings.
Since the Rangers also play on Saturday against the Calgary Flames, starting goalie Igor Shesterkin and backup Jaroslav Halak likely will split the back-to-back starts.
In the teams’ first meeting this season, the Oilers scored four unanswered goals in the third period for a 4-3 win over the Rangers in New York on Nov. 26.
–Field Level Media