It’s eight days late, but the Edmonton Oilers will make their third trip to Quebec this season for their second game in the Province. After all three games were postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Canadiens last week, the Oilers visit Montreal for the first of three makeup dates. The other two games will be played on May 10th and 11th.
This is the fourth of nine meetings this season between the Oilers and Canadiens. The sides will meet again in six days in Montreal, then twice in Edmonton at the end of the month before concluding the series in May. The road team is 3-0-0 in the season series, with the Oilers winning 3-0 in the last matchup on February 11th.
Carey Price gets the go for the Canadiens, while Mikko Koskinen gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Weather the storm early. If past performance is an indicator for the future, the Canadiens should come out flying tonight. However, as other teams off of COVID pauses have demonstrated, they should quickly run into fatigue after eight days off the ice. For the Oilers, it is imperative to weather the storm early, keep the game even and strike as the Canadiens begin to fall behind.
Montreal: Clog the neutral zone. When Montreal swept Edmonton earlier 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: Kyle Turris returned to the lineup last night and scored a huge goal to force overtime. Turris, until his move to right wing, was considered a failure as a free agent addition. Could the change to wing reignite his career? He’ll get another look inside the top-six tonight alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. He’s looking more confident, and that could be huge for the Oilers.
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.
Dave Tippett won’t be making any changes to his lineup other than the goaltender switch after last night’s 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Dominik Kahun, Alex Chiasson and Caleb Jones will be scratched, while James Neal and Evan Bouchard remain on the taxi squad.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Kyle Turris – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Gaetan Haas – Zack Kassian
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
William Lagesson – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Ethan Bear
Tyler Toffoli remains out of the lineup for the Canadiens. The key free agent pickup is still day-to-day with a lower body injury. Ben Chiarot (hand) and Joel Armia (COVID-19) also remain out of the lineup. New addition Eric Staal is in quarantine and not eligible to join the Canadiens just yet.
Montreal Canadiens Lines:
Tomas Tatar – Philip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson
Paul Byron – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Artturi Lehkonen
Michael Frolik – Jake Evans – Corey Perry
Joel Edmundson – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov – Victor Mete
“We just stay confident in our group, play with that relentless attitude,” Nugent-Hopkins said earlier Tuesday when asked about the club’s latest comebacks. “Obviously there’s a little desperation in our game, not enough where we turn pucks over and are just forcing things, but we’re just putting some pressure on them. It’s tough for the other team to get anything going offensively in those scenarios because we are just constantly putting pressure on them. I think when we are at our best, we are playing that relentless style.”
The Oilers come to Montreal feeling good about their game on the road. After going 1-0-1 in Toronto, the Oilers are 10-5-1 away from Rogers Place this season. In their last ten games, the Oilers are 7-2-1. They sit 8-4-1 overall in the month of March, and comfortably sit in playoff position.
The Oilers have been strong in the second half of back-to-back sets this season. In six back-to-back sets, the Oilers are 5-1-0 in the second half. They are 2-1-0 when the second half includes travel. They defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on March 18th in their last back-to-back, a set they swept.