Oilers blank Rangers
Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers Taylor Hall, right, and Shawn Horcoff celebrate Corey Potter's goal against New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist as Ryan McDonagh looks on during their game in Edmonton on October 22, 2011. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - Acquiring a lead hasnít been an issue for the Edmonton Oilers so far this season.
Maintaining one, however, is a different story.
The Oilers have held the lead in every game theyíve played this year, but had only a pair of wins to show for it heading into their contest against the New York Rangers.
On Saturday, they once again took a one-goal lead into the third period, but this time were able to expand on it in a 2-0 victory.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Corey Potter scored for the Oilers, while Nikolai Khabibulin turned away 19 shots in the win to record his first shutout of the season and 44th of his career.
Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring in the second period, taking a drop pass from Taylor Hall on a three-on-two rush and snapping a shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The Oilers rookie, who was stapled to the bench towards the end of the teamís loss to Minnesota on Thursday, had been the subject of conversation heading into the game as head coach Tom Renney suggested the first overall pick may need to sit out a game.
Yet with his five goals on the year, Nugent-Hopkins has provided nearly half of the Oilers offence this year, which would make it tough for Renney to put him in the press box.
Hall had a pair of quality chances to increase the Oilers lead in the period. However, Lundqvist was able to get a pad on a shot from in tight, then kept the pads closed as Hall, freshly out of the penalty box, went in on a rush off the left wing, cut across the net and tried to slide the puck through the goaltenders legs.
The Rangers chances, meanwhile, through the first two periods were limited. Their best opportunities came on a two-man advantage towards the end of the second. However, the Rangers shooting sights were off and didnít help their cause by firing the puck wide on a number of occasions.
In the first, Ben Eager had the Oilers best chance, sent in by Anton Lander and forcing Lundqvist to make a good save. Ruslan Fedotenko had the Rangers best opportunity as Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney put an outlet pass right on his stick, forcing goaltender to make a good save.
Corey Potter extended the Oilers lead in the third period on a blast from the point while on the power play. It was Potterís first career goal and it came after Rangers centre Mike Rupp took a hooking penalty 180-feet from his own net.
The Rangers had a great chance to get back in the contest when Marian Gaborik walked around Ryan Whitney and went in all-alone on the Oilers net. Khabibulin, however, was able to deny the Rangers winger.