NEW YORK (AP) Marian Gaborik netted his first three goals of the season, and the New York Rangers scored four times in the second period to beat the Edmonton Oilers 8-2 Sunday and spoil the return of former coach Tom Renney.
The game turned ugly with 8:42 left after a fight between New York’s Sean Avery and Edmonton’s Ladislav Smid. As Avery was being ushered toward the tunnel next to the benches, Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney yelled at him.
Theo Peckham joined the fray and was cut off by Rangers forward Brian Boyle. Those two fought after Peckham was blocked from going into the tunnel, and New York’s Brandon Prust took on Zack Stortini.
Gaborik, playing in his fifth game, added an assist as the Rangers won their second straight at home and sent the Oilers to their fourth consecutive loss (0-3-1) and sixth in seven games (1-5-1). Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, and Alex Frolov also scored in the second period.
Frolov added his second of the game with 7:46 left, Ruslan Fedotenko scored 40 seconds later, and Gaborik finished his hat trick 1:28 after that to make it 8-2 and give the Rangers their biggest scoring output this season.
Erik Christensen had three assists, and Martin Biron made 18 saves to win his second in a row in relief of the ill Henrik Lundqvist.
Ryan Jones and Shawn Horcoff scored in the second period to give Edmonton a brief lead, but the Oilers couldn’t hold it in front of Nikolai Khabibulin, who stopped 22 shots.
The admittedly nervous Renney, in his first season as Oilers head coach, was looking for a win in his first trip back to Madison Square Garden since being fired as Rangers coach on Feb. 23, 2009.
The Rangers broke out in the second with their highest scoring period of the season. But it sure didn’t start out well.
Edmonton struck quickly on goals by Jones and Horcoff 28 seconds apart to grab a 2-1 lead just 3:13 into the second. The Oilers (4-9-3), tied for the fewest points in the NHL, failed to sustain the momentum.
The game flipped for good when Gaborik and Boyle scored in a 25-second span.
The Oilers turned over the puck in the neutral zone, and Christensen found Gaborik with a lightning-fast outlet pass that sent the speedy forward in alone on Khabibulin. Gaborik made a darting cut from left-to-right and guided the puck in with his forehand to make it 2-2 at 7:12. There was brief concern as Gaborik fell to the ice after scoring and banged his already injured left shoulder into the left post. After staying down for a few moments as his teammates came over to celebrate, Gaborik pulled himself up and skated to the bench.
It wasn’t long before the Rangers enjoyed another goal.
New York broke free on a 2-on-1 rush with Fedotenko and Boyle leading the surge. Fedotenko slid a pass left to Boyle, who added to his already personal-best goal total with a one-timer that put the Rangers back in front at 7:37. Boyle, who had never scored more than four goals, has eight in 17 games this season.
Renney used his lone timeout then, but that was just the start for the Rangers.
Anisimov made it 4-2 with 6:43 remaining, seconds after a power play ended and just following a prime short-handed scoring chance by Edmonton’s Andrew Cogliano.
Frolov capped off the big period when he scored his third goal while being knocked down. He shook his arms and legs in the air, while seated on the ice, after making it 5-2 with 4.8 seconds left.
Edmonton had tied it 1-1 at 2:45 when Jordan Eberle’s shot rebounded to Jones for a quick return drive past Biron, Horcoff netted his fifth at 3:13 to make it 2-1.
The Oilers got off to a slow start, offensively and defensively. Perhaps feeling the effects of a 12:30 puck drop – 10:30 a.m. back in Edmonton – the Oilers fell behind 1-0 just 1:35 in on Gaborik’s long-awaited first goal of the season. Gaborik played in his second game since missing 12 because of a separated shoulder sustained in the home opener on Oct. 15.
Edmonton didn’t generate too much at the other end. The Oilers recorded only four shots in the first period, despite a pair of power plays, and didn’t get a shot in on Biron until rookie Taylor Hall’s drive at 6:42.
NOTES: Renney is the fourth on the Rangers’ career list with 164 coaching wins. … Edmonton went 0-3-1 on its five-game trip after starting it with a win at Chicago. … Khabibulin has allowed 18 goals in his past three outings.
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