Hurricanes beat Oilers to move closer to playoff position

Nino Niederreiter kept scoring goals for his new team. Curtis McElhinney kept up his mastery of the Edmonton Oilers.

They pushed the Carolina Hurricanes closer to playoff position.

Niederreiter scored two goals, McElhinney stopped the final 40 shots he faced, and the host Hurricanes beat the Oilers 3-1 on Friday night.

“Every single game matters a lot,” Niederreiter said, “so we’ve got to make sure we even win the close ones.”

Lucas Wallmark also scored and Sebastian Aho had two assists for the Hurricanes, who have won 15 of 21 since Dec. 31 for the best record in the NHL in that span. Carolina, which has not made the postseason in a decade, moved a point behind idle Pittsburgh for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we’re just getting critical plays at critical times right now,” McElhinney said. “We know what the situation is, and it’s going to take a lot for us to get into the playoffs, but the guys have been rolling since before the break, and we came out of it pretty hot. So it’s just a matter of gas pedal to the floor.”

Leon Draisaitl scored his team-leading 34th goal on the Oilers’ first shot, and Mikko Koskinen made 24 saves while losing his sixth straight decision. Edmonton is 1-7-2 in its past 10 and has been held to two or fewer goals in six of those games, all regulation losses.

“We’re generating chances. We’re making plays,” captain Connor McDavid said. “We’re just not finding a way to score.”

McElhinney improved to 7-0-0 against Edmonton — his best career record against any opponent.

Niederreiter gave Carolina a two-goal lead with 3:37 left by taking a feed from Aho and slipping a knuckler past Koskinen. Since he was acquired from Minnesota on Jan. 17, Niederreiter has eight goals in 12 games after scoring nine in 46 games with the Wild.

“At the end of the day, you want to be the best player you can be, and sometimes a change helps,” Niederreiter said. “Sometimes it doesn’t, and in my case, it definitely helped a lot.”

Rangers 6, Sabres 2: Rookie Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 shots, including 13 in the final period, and visiting New York rolled. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice in the final four minutes and added an assist. Jesper Fast and Boo Nieves staked New York to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich also scored.

Bruins 3, Ducks 0: Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves in his fourth shutout of the season, and visiting Boston beat Anaheim for its fourth consecutive victory. Noel Acciari and Jake DeBrusk scored for the Bruins, who have earned at least a point in nine consecutive games.

Devils 5, Wild 4: Nico Hischier scored 3:19 into overtime, Cory Schneider got his first win in nearly 14 months and New Jersey rallied to beat host Minnesota. Hischier, Marcus Johansson and Kyle Palmieri each had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who won for the second time in eight games. Will Butcher and Ben Lovejoy also scored. Schneider had 15 saves in relief, including three in overtime.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Hurricanes-beat-Oilers-to-move-closer-to-playoff-13621706.php.

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