As they prepare to honor the architect of their glory years, the Edmonton Oilers are playing their best hockey in what seems like ages.
While the surging Oilers aim to continue their most successful stretch of the season, the New York Rangers hope to jump-start a slumping offense Friday on a special night for Rangers president Glen Sather.
Edmonton (12-15-2) has won the first four games of a homestand it will conclude by raising a banner in recognition of Sather, the general manager during the Oilers' run of five Stanley Cups in a seven-year span from 1984-1990. Also the coach for the first four of those titles, the 72-year-old had served as the Rangers' GM from 2000 until resigning in July.
Sather's former team has fared better than his present one of late, with New York (18-8-3) having scored three times in three one-goal losses over a 1-2-1 stretch.
The Rangers failed to take advantage of several chances in Wednesday's opener of a three-game trip through Western Canada, going 0 for 5 on the power play while outshooting Vancouver 33-25 in a 2-1 loss.
''There's no doubt in the first two periods I felt we carried the play,'' coach Alain Vigneault said. ''We had some good opportunities and good looks, but weren't able to capitalize on them."
Two of New York's top offensive performers are particularly struggling. Mats Zuccarello has gone without a point in four straight and scored one of his team-high 11 goals over the last nine. Rick Nash has managed two assists in the past six.
The Rangers still have been receiving strong play from Henrik Lundqvist, who's lost two of his last three starts despite yielding four goals.
Lundqvist made 16 saves in a 2-0 win at Rexall Place on Dec. 14 that earned New York a season-series split.
Edmonton's upswing has coincided with Anders Nilsson having established himself as the No. 1 goaltender, a role former Ranger Cam Talbot struggled in during the season's early stages.
Nilsson owns a 1.85 goals-against average while starting nine of the last 10 games and a 1.93 mark in working all four on this homestand. He recorded 25 saves in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime victory over San Jose, coach Todd McClellan's first against a Sharks team he directed the previous seven seasons.
"I'm happy for our guys," McLellan said. "We've managed to string some wins together and feel more confident."
The Oilers can win five straight for the first time since March 26-April 3, 2013. Their five-game home winning streak is the longest since a seven-game run Feb. 4-March 2, 2008.
With rookie sensation Connor McDavid still several weeks away from returning from a fractured clavicle, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have carried Edmonton's offense of late. Both have scored in three straight, with Hall recording Wednesday's winner 3:59 into overtime after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins forged a 3-all tie with 4:37 left in regulation.
"The best part of our game tonight was our pushback," Eberle said. "We found a way to get another one. When they scored, we found a way to tie it. I thought when we needed to, we were there and we found a way to get two points. That's all that matters."
Friday's game will be the 1,000th for Vigneault as a coach. The 54-year-old owns a 538-349-77 record with 35 ties over 13 seasons with Montreal, Vancouver and the Rangers.