There’s a maturity in his manner now, a confidence in his game that couldn’t be overlooked every time Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hopped over the boards for a shift against the New York Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Nugent-Hopkins scored the opening goal in the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-1 victory, set up the game-winner, led the team in shots, and played more minutes than any forward in the game.

In short, he was the catalyst on a night the Oilers got their second road win and improved to 6-8-1 while the Rangers, last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, were left with a record of 6-6-2.

“It’s my fourth year in the league. I have to start to step it up here and I think the line is working pretty well this year,” said the centre, who obviously benefitted from an off-season that revolved around his preparation rather than post-surgery rehabilitation for his shoulder.

“This kid is coming like gangbusters right now,” said Oilers coach Dallas Eakins, “and we have other guys coming right behind him. I thought it was great team effort.”

It took Edmonton until Game 23 of last season to muster their sixth victory; the Oilers were 6-15-2 after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But this version of the Oilers will close out its five-game road trip on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators with a chance to return home with a record of 3-2 from the 10-day junket. After losing to the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, the Oilers got their first road win on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.

“Definitely a challenging game, a lot of scoring chances,” said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who faced 33 shots on a night the Oilers had another 18 blocked.

“This (Edmonton) team reminds me a little bit of Toronto. They have a lot of skill and they’re trying to go for it a lot of the time and, sometimes, that’s hard to defend.”

Nugent-Hopkins snapped a rebound past New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 3:19 of the first period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead that stood until the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin had a shot ricocheted in off the skate of Boyd Gordon at 12:34.