The Edmonton Oilers stormed back from down 2-0 on Saturday night to score a huge 4-2 regulation victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. The win was the club’s third in a row, and has them tied for the North Division lead. Tonight, the Oilers head east to kick off a massive five-game road trip as they visit Montreal.
This is the fourth of nine meetings on the season between the Oilers and Canadiens, who will play each of the next three games against each other. They’ll also meet in Montreal on April 5th, before concluding their season series against each other in Edmonton on April 19th and 20th. The road team is 3-0-0 in the season series, with Edmonton winning 3-0 in the last meeting on February 11th.
Carey Price gets the go for the Canadiens, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Use your speed. The Oilers have a distinct advantage when it comes to speed and skill tonight, as the bigger Canadiens are down Tyler Toffoli. Montreal is a good team, but they want to slow you down and grind you down. If the Oilers, especially their big top line, can create speed through the neutral zone, they should be able to expose the Canadiens and the struggling Carey Price.
Montreal: Clog the neutral zone. When Montreal swept Edmonton early in the season, the Canadiens had success by clogging up the middle of the ice and forcing Edmonton to dump and chase. The Canadiens then used their size to box the Oilers out. Montreal has to slow the transition game of the Oilers down, and then be opportunistic and wear them down in the offensive zone. Frustrate the Oilers, be physical and get them off their game.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins needs to carry the second line. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl again teamed up, Nugent-Hopkins will be tasked with keeping the second line afloat. The task is tough without Kailer Yamamoto, but this is where RNH can earn his next big contract. He’ll need to play a steady, strong two-way game tonight and hopefully chip in some offense.
Montreal: Joel Edmundson was a shutdown presence for the Canadiens when they swept the Oilers back in January. Tonight, he’s likely to draw most of his minutes against the McDavid/Draisaitl line. The Canadiens fortunes rest on the veteran shutdown defenseman and his partner, Shea Weber. Edmundson is the key on defense. If he can push around and slow down the dynamic duo, the Canadiens will be in great shape.
The Oilers will again be without Kailer Yamamoto, who is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Kyle Turris (COVID-19 Protocol List) is cleared but not yet ready for a return to game action. James Neal remains on the taxi squad, while Joakim Nygard and Caleb Jones will be scratched.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Josh Archibald
Tyler Ennis – Gaetan Haas – Zack Kassian
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
William Lagesson – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Ethan Bear
The Canadiens will have a big hole in their lineup tonight as Tyler Toffoli misses his third consecutive game. Toffoli is officially listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Ben Chiarot is also unable to play. He’s currently on IR with a hand injury and is at least a few weeks from a potential return.
Montreal Canadiens Lines:
Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson
Artturi Lehkonen – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia
Paul Byron – Jake Evans – Corey Perry
Joel Edmundson – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov – Victor Mete
“We’ll start them tonight and see how it goes,” Tippett said pre-game regarding his loaded up top line. “It’s an easy switch to make with just Draisaitl and (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins flipping places. We can change momentum in a game whichever direction we want to go. Ultimately, it’s about trying to find ways to win and we have some different looks that we can use to accomplish that. It about trying to maximize each players’ ability and put them in positions where you can get the most out of them.”
Connor McDavid continues to light the scoreboard up. McDavid is currently riding a nine-game point streak and leads the NHL with 60 points (21 g, 39 a). To put that into perspective, the Buffalo Sabres have scored 61 goals all season long. McDavid, thanks to a first period goal against the Jets on Saturday, is tied for the league-lead with 21 goals on the season. He’s tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews.
The Montreal Canadiens stormed out of the gates with a 7-1-2 start to the campaign. Since then? The Canadiens have won just seven of the ensuing 21 games. Montreal has managed seven loser points in that span, and sits 7-7-7 overall in their last 21 games. They are 4-2-4 in their last ten, and just 4-3-5 since firing Claude Julien and replacing him with Dominique Ducharme.