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Finding .500

The Oilers improve to 4-4-1 with a shutout victory against the Montreal Canadiens.

Derek Leung

Both the Habs and the Oilers came into Rexall place on a hot streak. The Canadiens started Dustin Tokarski, opting to save Carey Price for their second game of a back-to-back tomorrow against the Flames.

Nikita Nikitin was a game-time scratch, leaving the freewheeling, trigger-happy Brad Hunt to fill his spot on the Justin Schultz pairing.

First Period: Showing Up

0:00 This writer’s heart sinks a little bit as the Hunt-Schultz pairing is out there to start the game.

1:20 Jeff Petry makes a nice move at his own blue to carry the puck out. As they break into the Habs’ zone, the Oilers draw a penalty on Andrei Markov.

2:45 Prust goes in one-on-one against Jordan Eberle. He beats him to the outside and then back in, and gets a solid chance shorthanded. No harm done, score-wise.

3:21 Brandon Prust to the box for goalie interference.

6:00 Jesse Joensuu goes to the box on what looked like a bit of a soft call. He made a hard play on Markov on the boards and got called for a slash.

9:30 After a nice play by Gallagher on the rush, the puck sits for an uncomfortably long time in front of the net with four Oilers in the vicinity. They’ll have to be better at clearing the puck from that danger zone.

10:21 Mark Fayne is off for tripping.

10:31 Desharnais makes it a short PP for the Habs as he gets his stick up and around the head of Ference.

13:15 Benoit Pouliot gets a little too cute and gives away the puck in the offensive zone after a Draisaitl face-off win.

14:45 Ference plays the 2-on-1 well, taking away the pass and giving Ben Scrivens the opportunity to make the save.

14:56 Following that zone entry, the Canadiens create a bit of chaos surrounding the net, and a goal gets called off for goalie interference. The Oilers need to calm things down in their own zone.

17:30 After a great controlled zone entry by Yakupov, crossing the line and feathering a pass cross-ice to Ference, he finishes the shift with a heavy, heavy hit on Alexei Emelin.

19:41 Benoit Pouliot receives a soft pass from Mark Arcobello and goes in alone on Dustin Tokarski. He puts it away on the backhand to make it 1-0 for the Oilers.

19:59 Subban finishes the period by taking a tripping penalty on Taylor Hall. The Oilers will start the second period with the man advantage.

The Oilers finish the period up 1-0 with a CF% of 64.29 at 5v5. Despite a rough-looking period of two or three minutes following the goal that was waved off, they’ve looked competitive thus far against the 7-1-0 Habs.

Second Period: Sitting Back

3:00 Hall does a nice job stopping up Desharnais at the blueline.

3:30 The Oilers with a little more sloppiness in their own zone, giving up two decent chances to the Habs.

6:33 Yakupov puts away the loose puck fed in front by Pouliot. Good job by Mark Fayne to jump up in the play and keep it alive after Arcobello nearly lost it at the blue line.

7:00 Draisaitl picks up a tough pass and shows good speed on the rush. He drops it off to Purcell for a shot on net.

9:30 Alex Galchenyuk makes an unbelievable play in the offensive zone, making a move, maintaining possession and getting a nice pass off. Kid can play.

10:58 Jordan Eberle is off for high-sticking.

15:00 The Habs have an extended period of pressure in the Oilers’ zone. Yakupov makes a nice play to break up a pass with his skate and get a whistle. Edmonton seems to be sitting back a little—hopefully not for long. It’s a dangerous mindset.

17:00 A beautiful cycle in the Habs zone, which began with a Leon Draisaitl forecheck that got the puck loose and into the Oilers’ possession. It’s the first period of sustained pressure for Edmonton in the offensive zone in some time.

After the Yakupov goal, the Habs began to press hard and the Oilers had a difficult time answering. The shift in shot attempts reflects this, as Edmonton finished the second with a CF% of 40.00 at 5v5. The good news is, the copper and blue seemed to come alive near the end of the period.

Third Period: Holding On

0:50 Alexei Emelin to the box for roughing. That’s a fair call, as his hands/elbow came up on Hendricks.

3:45 The puck does a little more sitting around in front of Scrivens. The Oilers have to track it down and clear it from that area quicker. They're lucky no scoring chance comes as a immediate result of the chaos.

6:30 Perron walks in from the corner and gets a sneaky backhand on net with an opportunity for a rebound. Pretty good pace to this third period.

9:25 David Desharnais goes back to the box, this time for tripping Jordan Eberle.

11:30 Eller just about puts the Canadiens within one as he gets a hard shot off from the slot but misses the net.

13:00 Scrivens comes across the goal line to prevent a wraparound goal. As the score suggests, he’s looked great tonight.

13:43 Marincin goes to the box for an illegal stick. Was his broken? Sportsnet doesn’t seem to know either.

15:15 Boyd Gordon putting his body on the line tonight. Grit-factor is through the roof.

17:42 Taylor Hall puts the game on ice with an empty net goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins does a brilliant job of getting the puck up and out of his zone off the boards.

18:50 Yakupov goes on one last rush, absolutely busting his ass up the wing, just for good measure.

In Conclusion

Ben Scrivens came up big tonight as he shut out the red-hot Montreal Canadiens. That said, the Oilers as a unit did a better job of covering the opposition in their own zone—especially in and around their net—save for a few moments of chaos. The good news is, they look to be trending in the right direction (though it isn't hard to improve on what they were accomplishing in the defensive zone earlier in the season).

The shots on goal favoured Montreal 29-19, but a lot of that was due to score effects as the Oilers led the game from the end of the first period, and then added to that lead in the second.

Edmonton improves to 4-4-1 with four home wins in a row. This is what a win streak feels like. Bask in it, Oilers fans.