The Habs began to see their greatest start in history take a backseat to reality. What was looking to be another mind-blowing win by Montreal ended in a nightmare. The Edmonton Oilers went on from 3-0 down with two minutes left in the second to score four unanswered winning 4-3 at Rexall Place Thursday night.
20-year-old rookie center Leon Draisaitl scored two on the night that grew Montreal’s losing streak to two games. For the Oilers, it was just their second win at home and one they wont soon forget.
Since the Canadiens were no longer invincible to losing, the team can focus on having a successful season without the heat on them every game night. They take on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers who looked to end their three game winning streak with a win over Montreal. The teams are on completely different sides of the spectrum meaning the game would be filled with tight plays.
Things got dicey early for the Canadiens, as they had to play their PK unit early on to stop the opening power play awarded to the Oilers. They got out of the jam working themselves into playing even strength hockey from then on. The teams were taking their time shooting, looking for the right moment to strike. Montreal gained a man advantage eight minutes in where the pressure started to climb for goaltender Cam Talbot and the Oilers defense.
It took them half the penalty to score on P.K. Subban’s drive from the far end that got on the stick of Brendan Gallagher to go into the net giving him his fourth power play goal and fifth of the season. The Canadiens were on the Oilers like white on rice as they had the fight to play with Edmonton in their end. In the late stages of the period while the Oilers were on an attempt to clear the puck out, the Canadiens attacked near the boards and caught a huge break. Torrey Mitchell gained possession and scored on a wrister top shelf to notch his fifth of the season.
Alex Galchenyuk made it 3-0 for the Habs when the puck was deep in the Edmonton zone. A shot around the boards by Bryan Flynn ended on the stick of Andrei Markov who found Galchenyuk in the right spot to give the forward his second. The huge lead before the end of the period is just what the Canadiens wanted to brush off their bad loss from two nights ago. They outshot the Oilers 11-6 while wearing all the hits that Edmonton laid out.
The second went differently as the Oilers were the first to charge forward firing shots on Carey Price at every chance they had. By the midpoint of the game, Edmonton had taken five shots on goal while the Habs managed to put one on Talbot. With the game lopsided but the score still in favor of Montreal, Edmonton put all their effort into building something on all their chances.
In the final 90 seconds of play, they had the Canadiens on the ropes adding heat to the fire. They pushed towards the Montreal net to make one shot get through Price no matter what it took. It was done on a deflection from Draisaitl from Taylor Hall’s drive from the side that went into the net too late for Alexei Emelin to counter on. NHL officials went back to check the video and made it clear that the puck crossed over before being swatted.
Adding insult to injury, Montreal captain Max Pacioretty was called for tripping McDavid that gave the Oilers a shot in the third. They took 11 shots in the period mirroring the Habs success in the first while they recorded five.
The intermission helped Montreal get ready for two minutes while down a man. They killed off the Oilers power play but that didn’t stop them from scoring. It was nearly a one goal game but a save at the net by Subban helped out Price huge to hold the margin.
Though the chance was knocked away, it did not kill the spirit of the young team. They made things happen on a three man play that ended with Brandon Davidson firing the puck into the net to score his first of the season. McDavid recorded his sixth assist that got him fired up to make it a tie game. Edmonton only had 14 minutes to get it done.
In a show of force, the Oilers worked close on the Canadiens waiting for them to slip up. It came on a play where the puck got picked up by McDavid in the neutral zone getting it over to former Habs player Benoit Pouliot who scored on the stick side of Price tying the game. Yakupov picked up his eighth assist that got him on the same level as McDavid. The goal became the pivotal point of Montreal’s newfound losing streak to add another
A second skate issue came to Price who had the equipment manager come out on the ice and take care of his issue. Hoping that the problem was solved, he and the Canadiens wanted more than ever to get back the lead before time ran out. The opportunities didn’t come easy nor did they come clean as the Edmonton defense swarmed their end to force the puck to go their way.
Hall made the first run at Price with three minutes left, but as his high shot left the stick, he was ultimately denied by the fast glove of the Canadiens netminder. His efforts dwindled quickly as he was facing a fast Oilers team destined to make the game theirs to win. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins came in for a shot on Price but as he missed his moment, he quickly skated around to find Draisaitl open scoring his second of the night that completely changed the course of control.
The final 1:02 left in the game was Edmonton’s chance to hold on and take a much needed victory against one the leagues best. Talbot was the hero for the Oilers as he picked up his third win making 18 saves on 21 shots for a .857 save percentage. Price owned up to his second straight loss stopping 23 on the night that he wanted to forget.
He will most likely get the night off when they go against the Calgary Flames on Friday. In what is their second back to back of the season, the Habs will try and turn things around before it gets too late.