If we’d have told you that the Edmonton Oilers would be a .500 team at Christmas, and they couldn’t be happier about it, we wonder what you’d have thought back in October?

But .500 they are, with a record of 15-15-1, and they’re absolutely ecstatic about the last two wins, featuring two of Edmonton’s most impressive third periods of the season.

The last team in the NHL to play back-to-back games this season, Edmonton followed a 6-3 win at New Jersey on Thursday with a “pulsating” (to quote Jack Michaels) 4-3 win over the New York Rangers — after trailing in both games heading into the third period

“A lot of resiliency. Not changing. It’s something we’ve been working on for years as an organization,” said goalie Stuart Skinner, who stopped 31 pucks and gave Edmonton the best goalie on the ice for the second straight game. “You can see we’re coming along, we’re really mature about the game. We play the same way if we’re down by one or up by five.”

Against the Rangers, Edmonton turned a 1-0 second-intermission deficit around with two goals in 70 seconds, sparking a four-goal third period. In Jersey, it was three in 69 seconds, and a 3-2 deficit that ended up as a 6-3 win.

Taking stock, the Oilers come home with two wins on a three-game Eastern swing, and outscored the Eastern Conference leading Rangers and the Devils by a combined 8-2 in the third period — with the last Rangers goal crossing the line with 0.1 seconds left in the game.

Merry Christmas indeed.

“I like our guys’ perseverance,” said head coach Kris Knoblauch. “They deserve a nice little break through Christmas.”

Not to be lost is the fact that the Oilers plucked Knoblauch off of the Rangers’ AHL farm team in Hartford back in November, when Jay Woodcroft was fired. This, after the Rangers had overlooked Knoblauch when they brought in Peter Laviolette to be their head coach.

How did this win feel, coming back to haunt his old employer?

“I’ll just say they all feel good,” said the humble Saskatchewan-born bench boss. “We’re trying to climb up the standings, a very important two points heading into the break.”

It was one thing to get dominated by Jonathan Quick when he was in his prime, and playing behind the two-time Stanley Cup winning Los Angeles Kings. It’s quite another today, where an 37-year-old Quick signed a one-year, $825,000 contract to play behind Igor Shesterkin in the New York Rangers net.

Quick had shut out the Oilers by a 3-0 score back on Oct. 26 in Edmonton, stopping 29 shots, and he had them at 1-0 after 40 minutes Friday, putting on a circus act in the Rangers crease.

But then Hyman solved Quick on Edmonton’s 19th shot at 3:07 of the third, a nifty backhand deke set up by Mattias Ekholm. Then Evander Kane notched his 13th, just 70 seconds later.

The snake bitten Warren Foegele drilled home a wrist shot a couple of minutes later, and three minutes after that, Ryan McLeod cleaned up the mess after another Foegele wrist shot off of a two-on-one with Leon Draisaitl.

“Right before that, I’d passed off on a two-on-one, and Davo (Connor McDavid) said to me, “You’ve got to start shooting,’” Foegele laughed. “I don’t think you want to look off Leo very often, but luckily it went in.”

This was just a case of one team finding a way to blow open a game in which both goalies were stealing the show. By the time it was over — with the Rangers capitalizing on a late power play and their third goal with 0.1 seconds left — it was Skinner they were talking about, not Quick.

“He was really good in the first, and somehow even better in the second,” Kane said. “He gave us a chance to hang around so we could win it in the third.”

As for Skinner, there’s nothing like being in the zone.

“Best feeling in the world, to be honest,” he smiled. “It’s an addicting feeling.”

IN THE CREASE — At 59.9 per cent, no team in the NHL gets a higher share of the high danger scoring chances than Edmonton this season … Edmonton has just one win this season when they scored three or less goals … The Oilers had outshot their opponent in their last eight games before Friday, when they were outshot 34-28.

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