After a hot start, the New York Rangers are in an extended slump. They hope to turn their play around in a matchup with the Edmonton Oilers -- another team that is struggling after a strong start.
The Rangers visit Rexall Place on Thursday night to take on the Oilers in the teams' only meeting of the season.
New York (9-6-1) has seen its fortunes change drastically since opening 7-1-0. The Rangers suffered their third loss in four games Tuesday, 4-1 at Vancouver.
New York scored 30 goals during its seven-game winning streak from Oct. 3-17, but the offense has since dried up. The Rangers managed nine goals in their last five regulation losses and had just 23 shots on goal against the Canucks -- five in the third period.
Christopher Higgins delivered the only goal Tuesday for New York, which was involved in a melee in front of its bench that featured 10 Rangers against seven Canucks and resulted in five 10-minute misconducts, including one to Vancouver's Shane O'Brien for poking Sean Avery with his stick from the bench.
"I'd rather score when we win," Higgins told the team's official Web site after recording his first goal as a Ranger. "It seems like it's not that significant. It's the only goal we score, and we lose. Then we give up three, and most of them were preventable."
Rangers star Marian Gaborik, who precipitated the melee when he shoved Ryan Kesler with his stick during a line change, had his four-game goal streak snapped.
New York forward Dane Byers was suspended one game for his role in the fight, while coach John Tortorella was fined $10,000 because one of his players was deemed the instigator of the altercation.
Rangers forward Enver Lisin and enforcer Donald Brashear missed the game due to lingering injuries, and their status for Thursday is uncertain.
New York last won in Edmonton in 1999, although it has only played there three times since. The Rangers lost the most recent matchup at Rexall Place 3-2 in a shootout Jan. 5, 2008.
They will be taking on an Oilers team that also got off to a quick start before falling off. Edmonton (7-7-1) lost for the fifth time in six games Monday, 3-1 to the New York Islanders.
Like the Rangers, the Oilers are struggling badly in the offensive end. They have totaled three goals in the losses during this 1-5-0 stretch and were shut out three times in the last four games.
"We sure shoot ourselves in the foot," coach Pat Quinn said. "We are a team that beats themselves right now.
"In the second period (Monday), we abandoned again any principles of defense in the defensive zone. If you check like that, you lose hockey games. That's all there is to it. They played like the Harlem Globetrotters for a couple of shifts there, and they're not even a physical team."
The Oilers' Ethan Moreau opened the scoring with his second goal of the season 11:02 into the first period, but John Tavares tied the game 3:49 later and the Islanders outshot Edmonton 37-23.
Quinn's team has been hit hard by the flu, as center Mike Comrie sat out for the fifth time in six games and at least five players have been sick recently.
New York's three-game trip through western Canada concludes against Calgary on Saturday. Thursday's game is Edmonton's only home contest in a seven-game stretch, as it heads out on a five-game trip starting Sunday.
The Oilers are 6-2-1 at home compared to 1-5-0 on the road.