EDMONTON, Alberta — Henrik Lundqvist’s fifth shutout of the season was a breeze. Lundqvist made 16 saves, and the New York Rangers beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 on Dec. 14.
“It was not a very tough game for me, but they had a few chances here and there,” Lundqvist said. “We were patient. We felt like they were playing not to make any mistakes and were staying back. They were waiting for us to make mistakes so that they could counter. But we did a good job of playing a smart hockey game.
“We just stuck with the game plan and let our chances come to us. I thought we were the better team the whole game, but at the same time it was still a one-goal game for most of it.”
Dan Girardi and Carl Hagelin scored for New York (14-10-4), which has won three straight and five of seven. Lundqvist also had 29 saves in a Dec. 13 5-1 victory at Vancouver.
“I was happy when they told me I was going in again,” he said. “I am used to getting into a mental flow where you don’t have to work to get focused, but when you don’t play as much you have to work a little harder at that.”
The Oilers (7-19-5) have lost four in a row and 15 of 16 overall. “When you put only 16 shots on net, it’s tough to win and it showed tonight,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said.
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said the Rangers put up a bit of a brick wall.
“It was a tough night it seemed to get anything going,” he said. “It was one of those, it looked like a game where you’re watching paint dry. Both teams were being fairly responsible. The Rangers a few years ago took on that mentality of shot blocking where nothing was ever going to get through. It seemed like they were able to block a ton of shots and we weren’t able to get them through.”
The Rangers grabbed the lead when Girardi’s pass through the crease hit the skate of Edmonton’s Mark Arcobello and went past goaltender Ben Scrivens at 16:04 of the first.
It was the 21st time in 31 games that the Oilers allowed the first goal of the game. Rick Nash picked up an assist on the play, running his point streak to a career-high 10 games.
“He’s been one of our most consistent performers on both ends of the rink,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “In this league you have to be able to score, but you also have to be able to defend and he has done a really good job in both ends of the ice for us.”
Hagelin added an empty-net score with 22 seconds remaining. Scrivens finished with 20 stops.
Despite a limited amount of action around his net, Lundqvist did make a point-blank save on Oilers defender Jeff Petry with four minutes to play in the second.
Lundqvist bailed out his defenders with another big save in close on Taylor Hall with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third.
Both teams play again on Dec. 16. The Rangers travel to Calgary to face the Flames and the Oilers begin a two-game road swing against the Arizona Coyotes.