The Oilers (19-15-4) welcomed the Canadiens (17-12-6) to Rogers Place on Saturday night, squaring off in the early slot on Hockey Night in Canada. Edmonton played the night before, with Pittsburgh taking advantage of the Oilers’ decision to let Mike Smith do anything to the tune of a 5-2 road victory. The Canadiens were overtime winners in Calgary last time out, but look to have righted the ship some after dropping eight in a row earlier this year.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were reunited to start this one and it didn’t take them long to justify the move. With less than two minutes gone, McDavid picked up the rock around the Oilers blue line before motoring up ice with Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one. McDavid waited out Shea Weber before finding Draisaitl, who willed one past a desperate Carey Price. 1-0.
A few minutes later the Oilers earned their first power play of the evening after Jordan Weal tripped Adam Larsson on the forecheck. Unfortunately, the Oilers’ top unit couldn’t really get anything going, and arguably the best chance fell to The Habs’ Artturi Lehkonen after he sent Darnell Nurse for a hot dog.
Montreal killed the rest of the penalty, but the Oilers would strike again a few minutes later. This time, a lovely play at the blue line by Joakim Nygard turned Montreal over and led to chaos in front of Carey Price. The puck eventually fell to Ethan Bear near the right dot, who calmly threaded a pass to Josh Archibald at the top of the paint to tip home. 2-0.
The Oilers were in full control of proceedings after their goal, with Montreal struggling to find their footing in this one. That continued with Edmonton drawing another power play after winning a DZ faceoff.
Unfortunately, this one cost them. Yep, you read that right. After eighty or so good seconds, with crisp puck movement and a few efforts toward net, Connor McDavid tried to send Leon Draisaitl with a cross-ice pass. Draisaitl couldn’t corral it coming or going, however, and McDavid appeared to guess incorrectly that he would, taking one further stride low before realizing the puck was going the other way.
Darnell Nurse was left to defend a two on one with Jeff Petry the carrier, and he chose to look off his company before wiring one past Mikko Koskinen’s glove over the prone Nurse. 2-1. Oops.
The rest of the PP was less interesting, and while Montreal’s influence appeared to grow in the final minutes, there was no further damage before the first period ended.
The Oilers were as bad in the second period as they were good in the first. In fact, it took the hosts over 8 minutes to register their first shot on goal in the period.
Montreal’s pressure finally told, with Nick Suzuki drawing a holding penalty from Caleb Jones to send the Habs to the power play. It didn’t last the full two minutes, as Jeff Petry’s blast from the right point was tipped past Koskinen by Phillip Danault. 2-2.
The Canadiens continued to press after grabbing the equalizer, while the Oilers were struggling to stay afloat. They managed to draw another penalty in their own zone though as, again, Jordan Weal was caught for tripping.
Connor McDavid is must-see TV, even if the Oilers mostly aren’t. On a bit of a broken play after mostly struggling to get set up, the puck came to Nugent-Hopkins on the left wall. He fired a cross-ice pass to Draisaitl while McDavid wheeled around near his own blue line to gather speed and turn up ice. Draisaitl used his one and only touch to feather it right into McDavid’s stride and The Captain did the rest. Leaving Ben Chiarot in his wake, he dashed from right to left and had Carey Price reeling as he tapped it home around him. 3-2.
And that’s how the second period would end, with the Canadiens continuing to press after once again falling behind and the Oilers hanging on for dear life for the sweet release of the buzzer.
Just beyond the minute mark, Max Domi picked up the puck at center and walked Darnell Nurse en route to beating Koskinen under his left arm. That was a tough look for a couple guys on that one. 3-3.
The Oilers finally managed to stem the tide a little bit, but could never find the dominance they enjoyed for most of the first period. They would, however, earn themselves another power play thanks to a Cale Fleury trip. It yielded little, but did give the Oilers a bit of a break from getting their teeth kicked in at even strength.
This break proved important, as the Oilers depth managed to contribute once more with Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald combining on a broken-play-turned-two-on-one to beat Price and restore the Oilers’ lead. 4-3.
No further damage after that, as Montreal appeared to punch themselves out during the comeback bid and couldn’t offer as much as the game wound down. The Oilers had a few half looks at the empty net - including Mikko Koskinen - but couldn’t find an insurance marker. The important bit, though, is that they didn’t concede in that situation, and were able to see out the final seconds, earn an important two points, and bank another regulation win.
The Oilers were excellent in the first, overrun for most of the rest, and still managed to get the win. Gutsy result after playing the night before. No need to dive any deeper tonight, take those SEGABABA points and run.
CF%: 33 - 49 -- 40.24%
FF%: 22 - 32 -- 40.74%
SCF%: 17 - 23 -- 42.50%
HDCF%: 7 - 5 -- 58.33%
Shots: 17 - 23 -- 42.50%
Golazos: 3 - 1 -- 75.00%
The Vancouver Canucks (17-15-4) in Vancouver on Monday night. See you then.