The Montreal Canadiens needed to show that their loss in Calgary on Thursday was an anomaly, and against the Edmonton Oilers they got a chance to prove it.
Both teams came out with a bit of energy, providing a good pace to start the game.
If the good pace to start wasn’t enough, a spirited fight between two young heavyweights — the 6’6” Michael McCarron and 6’4” Darnell Nurse — delivered a good scrap near the boards before McCarron scored the takedown.
With Zack Kassian receiving two minutes for running into Carey Price, the Habs man advantage went ot work. But after failing to generate much offence, that opportunity was cut short as Andrew Shaw tripped Andrej Sekera trying to retrieve his own rebound.
The Canadiens sustained some solid pressure afterward, showing that they could make life difficult on the Oilers’ goaltender as well. On two separate shifts they swarmed the net and got several chances at the puck. The latter part of the first period was played around the Edmonton net, as Montreal generated 12 shots in a row.
The Canadiens had an incredible opportunity to take the lead, but Alex Galchenyuk missed a wide-open net right on the door step. A missed pass on the same shift turned into a chance for the Oilers, and Milan Lucic shot the puck past Price for a 1-0 Edmonton lead.
The Canadiens’ attack was near overwhelming for the Oilers to begin the second, but the Habs’ troubles with scoring goals was on full display as several chances in close would not go in.
In a bid to force a goal, Galchenyuk was placed back onto a line with Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov, and they created the team’s best scoring chances.
Price showed off his signature trapper save early in the third, as Oscar Klefbom released a strong wrist shot from the slot. His glove was on display all night long as the Oilers kept attempting to beat him there and were consistently denied.
It was the same story in the final 20 minutes as with the previous 30. The Canadiens applied a high amount of pressure and created many instances where they swarmed the puck around the net.
Brendan Gallagher was relentless around the net, responsible for a good amount of the team’s chances in tight.
Exhausted, the Canadiens allowed an odd-man rush after trying so hard to get the game-tying goal. A pass to Patrick Maroon, which he deflected, reached Price, but the goaltender was sharp in thwarting the chance.
Finally, the Habs were able to get on the scoreboard. After a good battle along the boards by Gallagher, Paul Byron found himself all alone in front of the Oilers’ net and slid the puck under Talbot.
They didn’t need the extra fire, but it certainly seemed like the Canadiens got it. Just seconds later, Pacioretty’s shot went off Klefbom’s stick and past Talbot, who was completely fooled by the deflection as the Habs went up 2-1.
The Oilers called and timeout and pulled the goaltender, but the Canadiens were able to jump on the puck immediately. Byron grabbed the puck off an Edmonton faceoff win and bolted down the ice along the boards. He gently flicked the puck towards the empty net to get the Canadiens the insurance goa.
Pacioretty also got his second goal of the game on Edmonton’s second attempt to score with their net empty. The Canadiens won the game by a 4-1 score.
- That Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-Radulov line sure looked good out there. They were responsible for a good amount of Montreal’s scoring chances. Their possession numbers as a line could be better, but it’s always impressive to watch the team’s most talented forwards playing together.
- The other forwards were able to play against more comfortable opposition. Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron were among those that benefited, as they showed moments of dominance on the ice.
- Alexei Emelin was unable to shake off some bad decision-making, as a choice he made played a part in a goal against the team once again. Instead of trying to poke the puck back deep in the zone, he could have backed away to cover Lucic better. Instead, the former Bruin had a clear shot on goal; the only one to beat Price on the night.
- Phillip Danault’s time on the top line was good while it lasted, but it was only a matter of time before he went back down into a more ideal position. He showed that he could still be effective offensively, getting the primary assist on Byron’s first goal./