Maybe they didn’t deserve the win Thursday, like Henrik Lundqvist said. And maybe they didn’t deserve the loss Saturday.
But that’s what the Rangers got when they dropped a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Oilers in a matinee at the Garden.
Despite playing a solid defensive game, the Blueshirts couldn’t convert on some of their chances against old buddy Cam Talbot as their difficult start to the season continued.
The Rangers (1-4-0) had gotten David Quinn his first NHL head-coaching win with the 3-2 overtime victory against the Sharks at the Garden on Thursday. They had done it without Kevin Shattenkirk, the veteran defenseman sitting out as a healthy scratch as his recovery from offseason knee surgery continues.
Yet Shattenkirk returned against the struggling Oilers (1-2-0), while second-year defenseman Neal Pionk was scratched for his second straight, and young blueliner Tony DeAngelo also sat.
By the start of the third period, the club had managed to play a tight game defensively and were locked in a 1-1 tie. They then got a little unlucky when Jason Garrison was not called for what sure looked like holding against Kevin Hayes, immediately followed by Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov getting called for a hold of his own on Kailer Yamamoto.
On the ensuing power play, Connor McDavid managed to net a sharp-angle backhand at 6:23, giving his team a 2-1 lead.
It seemed like the Rangers might get lucky just under four minutes later when a Namestnikov shot off the backboards skirted into the crease behind Talbot, but Talbot was able to recover and stop the two jam-shots from Filip Chytil and Ryan Spooner to keep the one-goal lead going into the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Despite a flurry with Lundqvist on the bench for the extra attacker in the final minute, the Rangers just could not get the equalizer.
The Rangers started the game playing simple and smart defensively, and they were rewarded with some good offensive chances. One was converted by Mika Zibanejad, who scored his first goal of the season at 12:49 of the first when he buried a loose puck after a deflected shot from Marc Staal.
Yet the lead lasted just 87 seconds, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to corral one in front and slip it around Lundqvist, making it 1-1 going into the second.
Lundqvist was able to make some good stops in the middle frame, as was his counterpart and former understudy, Talbot, keeping the game knotted at one going into the third period.