Drilling Oil-ers: Rangers pound Edmonton, 8-2

On Kids’ Day, the Rangers may have shown they have collectively matured to adulthood.

“Sometimes you take a step backward in these types of trap games,” John Tortorella said after the Rangers’ 8-2 demolition of the Oilers Sunday at the Garden. “I thought we handled ourselves well as far as preparing and just playing the way we should play at the beginning of the game.”

The Rangers improved to 9-7-1. Edmonton fell to 4-9-3 and is tied with the Islanders for the fewest points in the league with 11.

What transpired at Madison Square Garden yesterday afternoon was about as one-sided as the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight Saturday night. Eleven Rangers were plus-1 or better, led by the top line of Marian Gaborik, Erik Christensen and Alex Frolov, each of whom was plus-five. Ten Rangers scored at least one point, with Gaborik and Frolov tallying four points. Gaborik also recorded his first hat trick since January 31.

Gaborik returned to the lineup Thursday, after missing 12 games with a separated suffered during the Rangers’ 4-3 home opening loss to Toronto on October 15.

His first goal of the season came 1:35 into the game. Gaborik finished a good forechecking shift with linemates Frolov and Christensen by shoving the puck under Nikolai Khabibulin (23 saves).

Edmonton briefly took a 2-1 lead in the second period. Ryan Jones tied the game at 1-1 with his fourth of the year 2:45 into the second period. Shawn Horcoff’s off-wing slapshot 28 seconds later deflected off the top of Martin Biron’s (19 saves) glove and into the net.

The Rangers then exploded for seven goals in 18:21 spanning the second and third periods.

Christensen (three assists) sprung Gaborik for a breakaway goal to tie the game at 2-2. Christensen corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone and snapped a perfect feed to Gaborik. The Rangers’ right wing bore towards the Edmonton goal unmolested, deked Khabibulin into the Oilers’ room and tucked the puck into the cage.

Twenty-five seconds after Gaborik’s goal Brian Boyle snapped a one-timer from the slot which allowed the Rangers to re-take the lead, 3-2, and sent the Garden crowd into delirium. Oilers coach Tom Renney called timeout following Boyle’s goal. But without Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jarri Kurri and Paul Coffey on his bench, it was rather meaningless.  

Artem Anisimov pushed the lead to 4-2 with his sixth goal of the season at 13:17 of the second. Rookie center Derek Stepan threw a centering feed that deflected off of Anisimov’s skate and into the net. Frolov redirected a Christensen feed under Khabibulin with 4.8 seconds remaining in the second.

“It is a long season. For some reason we couldn’t score goals for a few games. You try to too hard sometimes,” explained Frolov. “When it clicks, you just have to stick with it. You have to play loose, have some confidence and have some chemistry.”

With the game over for all intents and purposes, the third period turned into a Slap Shot revival. Derek Boogaard and Steve MacIntyre fought twice. Sean Avery pummeled Ladislav Smid in a mismatch after Avery planted Colin Fraser into the boards. As Avery left the ice, he exchanged words with Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham. Peckham attempted to follow Avery into the hallway, only to be restrained by Boyle. The remaining Oilers and Rangers on the ice paired off, highlighted by a center-ice bout between Brandon Prust and Zack Stortini, and Brandon Dubinsky, who was on the bench, attempting to grab Fraser while he was tied up with Steve Eminger.

The teams combined for 154 penalty minutes, 148 of which were called in the third period. It’s a certainty that Colin Campbell will dole out fines and suspensions after reviewing the tape of the game.

“Guys got pushed into our bench. That’s why there (was) a lot of jostling. You have to defend yourself a little bit,” Eminger said. “Fraser was definitely initiating.”

Frolov, Ruslan Fedotenko and Gaborik back-to-back-to-back goals in a span of 2:08 after the melee to conclude the offensive outburst.


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