NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers on Tuesday relied heavily upon a veteran forward for a game-changing goal and a pair of young defensemen to protect a third-period lead.
Left winger Rick Nash scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period and the Rangers killed a trio of penalties in the third period to halt the Edmonton Oilers' six-game winning with a 4-2 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Nash's 10th of the season broke a 2-2 tie with 38.7 seconds remaining in the second period and 1:01 after Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle scored to tie it. With defenseman Marc Staal in the penalty box for four minutes in the third period, the Rangers turned to rookie defensemen Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei, who was making his NHL debut, for key shorthanded shifts.
It all resulted in the Rangers avenging a 7-5 road loss to the Oilers on Friday and earning their third win in 11 games.
"Timely goals and timely saves were a big part of our early season success," said coach Alain Vigneault, whose team started 16-3-2 before this current 3-6-2 stretch. "There's no doubt that instead of going into our dressing room after two with a tie, that power-play goal gives us a little bit of momentum going into the third. Then we were able to kill off a lot of penalties in the third to get it done."
Nash's goal was on a power play after the Oilers were called for too many men on the ice.
"It happens so fast in front our bench," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "This one happened so quickly and unfortunately, they scored on us."
The three kills were impressive after Oilers left winger Taylor Hall scored a power-play goal early in the second period. Hall was alone after a cross-ice pass from center Leon Draisaitl, leaving goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with a difficult shot he could not stop.
The Oilers generated just one shot over those six minutes of power-play time.
"I think that won us the game, the way we played on the PK in the third period," Lundqvist said. "This was just so needed, this win. The way we had to battle in this game, hopefully we can build on this one."
McIlrath also contributed offensively, scoring his first NHL goal 2:42 after Hall's tally to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He played a career-high 29 shifts and had 18:38 of ice time, the second-most of his brief career.
"It was unbelievable," McIlrath said of his goal. "It was a long time coming."
The Oilers played well considering this was the second half of a road back-to-back. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Boston Bruins on Monday night but escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory. A slow start and punchless power play over the final 20 minutes hampered the Oilers against the Rangers.
"The first period wasn't great but back-to-backs make it tough to be ready right off the bat," Hall said. "We probably didn't deserve two points last night but tonight we definitely could have.
"Our power play needs to find a way."
In a game that featured a combined 41 shots - Lundqvist made 18 saves and Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson stopped 17 shots - right winger Jesper Fast salted away the win with the game's final shot, a goal into an empty net with 3.2 seconds remaining.
The Rangers have been reeling of late. They're hoping a defensive performance like this one is the start of a turnaround for what was once a team at the top of the NHL standings.
"When you look at the tape, you can see we didn't give them too many chances, and that's what killed us last time with these guys," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We were better (in front of the net). We did a pretty good job of that tonight."
NOTES: Oilers LW Rob Klinkhammer returned after a 21-game absence with a foot injury. ... Oilers LW Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed) and D Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed) could return before the Christmas break. ... Oilers G Cam Talbot, who spent the past two seasons with the Rangers, served as the backup. ... Rangers D Brady Skjei had one shot in 14:54 and his turnover led to a goal by Oilers RW Jordan Eberle. The 21-year-old took the place of D Dan Girardi, who is day to day with knee swelling. ... Rangers C Derek Stepan (ribs) and D Kevin Klein (oblique) remained out.