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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers @ Montréal Canadiens

Oilers look to make it four wins in a row as they visit an injury riddled Habs squad

NHL: Player Headshots 2021 Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (21-16-2), 6th, Pacific)

Montréal Canadiens (8-27-7, 8th, Atlantic)

29 January 2022

Centre Bell

5 PM MT

TV: CBC

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Eyes On The Prize

THREE IN A ROW

Connor McDavid scored another jaw dropper in the shootout, and it was enough to nudge the Oilers to a victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. McDavid and Evan Bouchard each had a goal during regulation time, while Mikko Koskinen turned aside 28 saves (and three more during the shootout). The Oilers are winners of three straight games. They’ll look to make it four in a row with a visit to Montréal tonight. Can the Oilers keep the streak going?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“I think we’re starting to see some games that we saw at the beginning of the year and guys are starting to get their confidence back and we’re getting good goaltending...Mikko has been a rock back there and when he plays like that it makes our job easier and we have to make his job easier too and be better in front of him.”

Source

That’s Connor McDavid after his club’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

The Predators are a good hockey club, and the Oilers earned the victory on Thursday night. It helped a bit that McDavid danced around Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros in the shootout, but the Oilers were hitting the Predators with everything they had for the first 65 minutes. Mikko Koskinen’s little run of three games has him right around the .930SV% mark, which is going to be a big boost to these Oilers if he can keep it up.

THE CANADIENS ARE SAYING

“It’s been a tough year...You definitely want to build on what you did well, and the team showed a lot of character and heart tonight. And whether it was 4-1, 5-2, the team wasn’t quitting and we all believed in each other, and a couple of bounces here and there and it might be a different game.”

Source

That’s Canadiens forward Jake Evans after his club’s 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.

Tough year for the Canadiens? Yes. As the league rounds the halfway point, they’re the only club that’s yet to hit double digits in the win column. They’ll have a 17% chance at drafting first overall if they clinch the league’s worst record, so they’ve at least got that going for them.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • MEDIA, ETC: Looks like new Oiler Evander Kane could make his debut tonight in Montréal. From the looks of it, seems like Dave Tippett found out at the same time that everyone else did. I think the play here is to put Kane on the top line, giving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a chance to run the third line. Could we see a Hyman-Nugent-Hopkins third?
  • Mikko Koskinen’s been having a nice little streak going for him. He’s won his last three games, turning aside 97 of 104 shots during that time. I’d wager that the Oilers might try to work Stuart Skinner into a game tonight, but Tippett has had a “win and you’re in” mentality for much of his time as Oilers head coach. The Canadiens will start one of Sam Montembault (2-7-1, .903 SV% / 3.71 GAA) or Cayden Primeau (1-4-0, .879 SV% / 4.60 GAA) in tonight’s contest.
  • How bad is it in Montréal this year? Pretty bad. They’re tied with the Arizona Coyotes with the fewest scored goals per game (2.21), they allow the most goals per game on average in the league (3.79), goaltender Jake Allen is injured and out for at least the next month, they’re down Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin, two other forwards and a defenceman. So yeah, things could be going a little better for them.
  • Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are within one point of each other atop the NHL scoring race. Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau and McDavid both hold 58 points, while Leon Draisaitl sits atop the league currently with 59.
  • Another goal for Evan Bouchard in Thursday night’s win. Hey, I could get used to this sort of thing. That’s three goals in Bouchard’s last three games. Not bad for a guy on an ELC making 20% of Tyson Barrie’s cap hit, not bad at all. Bouchard played nearly all of Edmonton’s power play time, too. We’ll see if Tippett continues the trend when Tyson Barrie comes back. Barrie is eligible to come off IR as soon as he’s ready to go.

Oilers can make it four in a row and get within shouting distance of fourth place in the Pacific with a win tonight. Let’s see what they got.