Brassard (mumps) set to return Saturday night

Derick Brassard has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises this season with eight goals and 24 points in 27 games. His momentum was threatened when he became yet another victim of the NHL’s mumps outbreak, but in the end the disease hasn’t cost him much playing time.

Thanks in part to Brassard’s illness corresponding with a light section of the Rangers’ schedule, he has only missed two contests. After skating Saturday morning, he confirmed that he would play tonight, per the Bergen Record.

The 27-year-old forward will assume his previous role as the Rangers’ first-line center. That unit also includes Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. J.T. Miller, 21, had gotten some playing time with Nash and Zuccarello during Brassard’s absence, but Miller will drop to the third line.

The Rangers are aiming for their fifth straight win tonight as they battle to enter the holiday break in a playoff position. They’re currently two points behind the second Wild Card spot, which is currently occupied by Florida.

Rangers blank Oilers for third straight win

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Dan Girardi had the game-winner and Henrik Lundqvist made 16 saves for the shutout as the New York Rangers blanked the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 Sunday.

Carl Hagelin added an empty netter with 22 seconds remaining.

New York has won two straight to start its’ four-game road trip and three straight overall.

With his assist on Girardi’s second of the season, Rick Nash extended his point streak to a career-best 10 games. Nash now has six goals and six assists during the streak.

The shutout was the fifth of the season for Lundqvist and the 55th of his career.

Edmonton has now lost four straight and have just one win in their last 16.

The Oilers had just five shots on goal in each of the first two periods. New York blocked 21 Edmonton shots over three periods.

Ben Scrivens made 20 saves in the loss.

Video: Nash scores a beauty, Rangers beat Penguins in OT

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Rick Nash is up to 18 goals on the season. The New York Rangers are up 12 wins.

Sent in on a breakaway, Nash buried a rebound after he rendered Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury helpless on a nifty move to the backhand, giving the Rangers the lead in the second period. They went on to win 4-3 in overtime, but not before coughing up a two-goal lead to their Metropolitan Division rivals and needing the extra period to secure the win.

The Penguins scored twice in 24 seconds, erasing that two-goal deficit with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Nash continues to pile up the goals, with six in his last eight games, which also happens to be the length of his current point streak. But the pace he’s set would mean he would obliterate his goal totals from the previous few seasons. Last year, he scored 26 goals in 65 games, which put him well down the list among NHL players. He’s now all in second place in that category, behind Tyler Seguin.

(Video) PHT Extra: Can Tarasenko help get the Blues over the hump?

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It’s the Blues and Blackhawks tonight on Wednesday Night Rivalry (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). So given these two Central Division mates met in last season’s playoffs, and given they may well meet again this postseason, we decided to talk about Vladimir Tarasenko and whether the 22-year-old Russian sniper could help lead St. Louis to its first ever Stanley Cup title.

P.S. — We know Tarasenko was on the Blues last season and had four goals in the first-round loss to the ‘Hawks. But while he couldn’t get St. Louis over the hump in his first full playoff series, he’s since taken his game to a higher level. Currently, only three players — Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, and Steven Stamkos — have more goals than Tarasenko’s 14.

Thanksgiving Shutdown: Rangers blank listless Flyers for second time this season

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The second meeting of the year between the Rangers and Flyers was an awful lot like the first.

Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash scored while Cam Talbot stopped all 26 shots faced as New York blanked an uninspired Flyers team 3-0 at Wells Fargo, on what was a very Black Friday in Philadelphia.

Nine days ago, the Flyers were also blanked by the Talbot and the Rangers — 2-0, in the first meeting of the year between the two teams. That game was notable because, afterward, GM Ron Hextall unloaded on players with a profanity-laced tirade inside the MSG dressing room.

Hextall’s rant has done little to change the on-ice product, however.

The Flyers lost three of four following that defeat in New York, including Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Detroit which was followed with a players-only meeting. “It’s easy to see things slipping away,” goalie Steve Mason said, a notion pundits seem to be agreeing with:

As for today’s game, there were no more signs of life than previous outings. Philly only mustered 26 shots — including a mere 15 through the first two periods — and allowed another power play goal, marking the seventh time in the last eight games the league’s worst PK unit has allowed at least one PPG. Unsurprisingly, Flyers were showered with boos by the disappointed home crowd.

With the loss, Philly dropped to 8-11-3 on the year, falling five points back of the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have now won three of four and are looking like a fortress defensively; today’s game marked the return of captain and top defender Ryan McDonagh, and it also marked the third time in the last four games New York posted a shutout.

Notes

McDonagh had 22:12 of ice time in his return, and notched an assist… St. Louis’ goal was the 1,000th point of his career… These two teams will meet again tomorrow at MSG.