After failing to show up for over half of the game, the Edmonton Oilers somehow squeezed out a big 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night.
Edmonton’s woes against bad teams continued early on Thursday night and many, myself included, had figured the game had gone by the wayside at the end of the second. Despite having a goal, Edmonton looked near lifeless against a Canadiens team that had been on a seven-game winless skid ahead of the game.
But somehow, the Oilers decided to show up in an exciting third period that saw them score three goals and ride off to victory.
Kris Russell played one of the worst games I’ve seen in recent memory having been caught well out of position staring on both of the Canadiens goals. He was one of the darkest spots in what was a bad night for many, including Jujhar Khaira who looked out of place all night. The Oilers third line of Joakim Nygard, Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald were rock solid for the Oilers generating opportunities on the rush and accounted for the Oilers first goal of the game — the one that really kicked things off.
Mike Smith was everything and more for the Oilers despite giving up goals he probably wished he could get back. He posted a .946 save percentage — his second in three games over .900. He’s done a good job in the New Year keeping Edmonton in some big games that have helped them jump out to a 3-0-1 record in 2020.
Edmonton will now close out their five-game road trip Saturday night with an 8 p.m. matchup against the Calgary Flames.
The first period
After a relatively uneventful first two minutes, the Habs got a powerplay chance at the 17:45 mark after Alex Chiasson grabbed and held the stick of Brett Kulak as they battled for position at the Oilers blue line. Inexplicably, Montreal somehow managed to clear the offensive zone twice as errant passes toward the blue line missed their marks.
Montreal pushed the pace early on outshooting Edmonton 6-1 until at the 11:40 mark, Jeff Petry took a holding call after getting wrapped up with a streaking Leon Draisaitl. Two shots came from the Oilers, but none found the back of the net.
Despite being outshot early, Edmonton did a great job in limited them to low danger areas without giving up any big opportunities. Joakim Nygard got Edmonton’s best chance of the game thus far with a solid wraparound chance where he used his speed, but it was unfortunately for naught as Montreal scored moments later.
With 7:25, the Habs got themselves on the board Phillip Danault took a shot from between the hash marks that was kicked out by Mike Smith, but he was able to corral his own rebound and slide it past the Oilers goalie. Caleb Jones had took the body on Tomas Tatar, as he should have, while Kris Russell was caught stationary and reaching as Danault took both shots without much contention. 1-0 Habs.
James Neal had the best chance for the Oilers late in the first when he nearly deflected a Connor McDavid pass past Carey Price.
All in all, Edmonton was lucky to exit the first period down only 1-0. Montreal clearly came to play early, outshooting the Oilers 14-6 by the end of the first frame.
Edmonton came out of the gate with some jump to start the second and was capped off with solid chances from Neal and Kailer Yamamoto but shortly after, Montreal extended their lead.
Russell and Jones once again got caught stationary and staring as Montreal scored 2:24 into the second frame. Artturi Lehkonen came into the offensive zone on the left half-wall catching Russell in an awkward reaching stationary position as he fed a cross-ice pass to Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who made no mistake finding twine. While Jones was caught in an awkward spot, he also had to respect the extra Canadien pushing him back. 2-0 Habs.
The OIlers bottom-six came up big as with just over 12 minutes left in the second, Joakim Nygard won a big board battle and flipped a quick pass to Riley Sheahan in the slot who made no mistake in picking the top corner over Carey Price’s shoulder. 2-1 Habs.
The goal seemed to wake up the Oilers a little bit who began to pick up their pace. The Nygard-Sheahan-Josh Archibald line began to lead the way with another great chance moments later.
Gaetan Haas, Adam Larsson and Klefbom somehow all got caught staring at Brendan Gallagher with minutes left in the second allowing the Hab to thread a pass through all three and onto a streaking Nate Thompson. With only Mike Smith to beat, Thompson made a quick move to beat Smith, but somehow hit the post.
It was a near-perfect encapsulation of what the Oilers game had been like and much like the first, the Oilers were lucky to only be down by one goal.
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett kept the lines together to start the third period and Edmonton came out firing once again with a fantastic Yamamoto chance at the side of the net. The shifty forward, however, couldn’t find the back of the net.
Edmonton got themselves a powerplay chance after McDavid drew a hooking call 1:37 into the period. If there was a time for the Oilers to score and get back into the game, it was on this chance and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made no mistake finding twine for his 10th of the year.
Leon Draisaitl threw a cross-ice pass from the right half-wall all the way across the ice to Connor McDavid, who hot potato’d the puck to Nugent-Hopkins in the bumper position in the high slot. Tic-tac-toe and it’s all of a sudden 2-2.
Edmonton continued to push the pace as the third period went on. Seemingly having finally showed up, the Oilers got their first lead in the game with just over 10 minutes left in the third. Oscar Klefbom walked from the blue line down the left boards and floated a quick pass to the high slot where Alex Chiasson was to deflect the puck home. 3-2 Oilers.
Kris Russell’s bad night continued with just over nine minutes in the third when he took a sloppy hooking penalty leaving the Oilers a man short. But fear not, the Oilers rock solid penalty kill kept up as they were able to limit any Canadiens chances at bay.
The Oilers capped off the game with a Josh Archibald empty-net goal with 35 seconds left to secure the win.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
|12:35||Montreal||Phillip Danault (11) ASST: Tomas Tatar (22), Jeff Petry (20)||0-1|
|02:24||Montreal||Jesperi Kotkaniemi (6) ASST: Artturi Lehkonen (12), Brett Kulak (4)||0-2|
|07:16||Edmonton||Riley Sheahan (5) ASST: Joakim Nygard (6), Adam Larsson (4)||1-2|
|02:16||Edmonton||PPG – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (10) ASST: Connor McDavid (46), Leon Draisaitl (43)||2-2|
|09:40||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson (6) ASST: Oscar Klefbom (22), Kris Russell (6)||3-2|
|19:25||Edmonton||EN – Josh Archibald (4) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18), Leon Draisaitl (44)||4-2|
|02:15||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson – Stick Holding – 2 minutes|
|08:20||Montreal||Jeff Petry – Holding – 2 minutes|
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