The Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers qualified for the conference finals last spring and fell short.
So far both teams are playing inconsistently at times with the Oilers at .500 heading into Saturday afternoon's encounter in New York.
Edmonton allowed 22 goals in a four-game sweep by theeventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The Rangers won the first two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and lost the next four by scoring five goals.
Now, the Oilers head into New York with a split of their first 20 games. Edmonton won seven of its first 10 games but is 3-7-0 in its past 10, starting with a third-period collapse at home to the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 3.
The Oilers have allowed 40 of their 72 goals in the past 10 contests, including eight on the first two games of their New York area trip. Edmonton followed up its 5-2 loss to New Jersey on Monday with a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday when it took a season-high 49 shots, went 0-for-5 on the power play and also conceded a short-handed goal.
"You're never thinking you're going to get shut out," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "When you have five power plays and don't score and give up a shortie, it's a recipe for losing."
Edmonton also continued to start slowly offensively as it allowed eight of Wednesday's first nine shots. In a 3-1 loss to Los Angeles on Nov. 16, they allowed 12 of the first 14 shots, at Florida on Nov. 12 they allowed the first 11 shots and at Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, they allowed 11 of the first 12 shots.
"Our game needs to be a lot more consistent," Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse said. "We can't be giving up three goals a night. We can't have our goalies having to make too many grade-A saves."
Things are picking up slightly for the Rangers, who are 4-2-1 in their past seven games since dropping three straight home games to Boston, Detroit and the Islanders Nov. 3-8. The Rangers are returning from a 2-1-1 West Coast trip and hoping to improve on an uneven 4-3-3 home record, especially with seven of their next 10 on home ice.
New York ended the trip with Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Anaheim on the second night of a back-to-back after Chris Kreider scored twice in a 5-3 comeback win at Los Angeles. Barclay Goodrow and Braden Schneider scored for the Rangers, who took 43 shots on goal against Ducks goalie John Gibson.
It marked their seventh contest with at least 40 shots and the Rangers are 2-4-1 in those games.
Artemi Panarin had an assist but also has gone 11 games without a goal, though he has seven assists in that span.
"It's frustrating," New York's Mika Zibanejad said. "We don't play our best game, but we create enough chances, we do enough, but the puck didn't want to go in, at least tonight."
--Field Level Media