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The Habs continued a rough Western Canada road trip without their head coach as they visited the 40-21-4 and offensively lethal Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. They got some hard lessons on just how lethal the Oilers are as they made very few mistakes in the first two periods yet still found themselves down two goals. Montreal fought back in the third period, tied the game and, deserved a better outcome, but a correct interpretation of a crappy circumstance around the rules resulted in a four-minute power play for one of the league’s best in overtime. The result was as expected as Edmonton got away with a 3-2 overtime victory. 

Montreal’s Lines

Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Joshua Roy – Alex Newhook – Joel Armia                                          Brendan Gallagher – Jake Evans — Josh Anderson                           Michael Pezzetta — Colin White — Rafael Harvey-Pinard 

Mike Matheson — Kaiden Guhle
Arber Xhekaj – David Savard                                                               Jordan Harris – Johnathan Kovacevic 

Samuel Montembeault 

10 Thoughts Recap

1) Pezzetta was getting back into the lineup so he played his role early and finished his checks. Sam Carrick took exception and the two dropped the gloves a few minutes into the game. Carrick got the better of the tilt although Pezzetta held his own. 

2) The first ten minutes of the game were played in the Habs’ zone, but the Canadiens were really sharp defensively as the defenders were aggressive in their gap coverage and it stopped the Oilers from even getting shots on goal. The shots were 3-2 for the Habs despite the flow of play favouring the Oilers. 

3) With 10:40 to play in the first, Anderson was absolutely atrocious as he coughed up the puck at his own blue line. The puck ended up on Connor McDavid’s stick who skated around the zone and then deked two Habs before adding Montembeault to his list of victims as he opened the scoring on a sweet goal that was a result of a brutally lazy play. 

4) With four minutes to play, Matheson used his skating to help Roy and Armia in a good cycle shift that ended with a Habs man advantage that they almost capitalized on as Slafkovsky beat Calvin Pickard but the shot rang off the iron. The period ended 1-0 on the scoreboard and 8-7 for the Habs on the shot clock. 

5) Most of the second period was controlled by Montreal. They ended the period with an 18-16 shot advantage. Unfortunately, this once again meant little as one chance was all the Oilers needed as Mattias Ekholm made the perfect pinch before going cross-ice to Evan Bouchard who found Adam Henrique behind Savard. It was 2-0 Oilers despite 40 minutes of strong defensive play by the Habs. 

6) The two teams exchanged power play chances in the second half of the period and both had zone time without really creating high-quality scoring chances. 

7) The third was easily the most entertaining period as the Habs had to take some chances offensively and they were quickly rewarded for their effort as they had the game tied in the first five minutes.  

8) 32 seconds into the period, Suzuki made a nifty little pass to Slafkovsky who returned the pass. Suzuki was in coverage and the puck went off his skates before beating Pickard. This really got Montreal going as they were all over Edmonton in the early moments of the period. This ended when Slafkovsky was called for tripping in the offensive zone. Draisaitl negated his own power play a minute later, and then Guhle took advantage of the 4-on-4 to jump into the play and burned Bouchard to skate in and bury low glove side to even the game. 

9) With 2:43 left in the game, Savard got called for a hook. I have no issue with the call itself, but the infuriating part of the NHL is the pretending that Armia didn’t have an Oiler defender draped all over him moments prior that allowed the Oilers to get to the offensive zone. Regardless, the Habs continued their courageous effort in killing the penalty and they got some help with a post and a great Montembeault save afterwards. 

10) In the final moments, Armia was called for a high stick on a play that was a blatant interference against the Oilers. How they call one and not the other is mind-boggling. With a four-minute power play heading to overtime, it was no surprise that the Oilers scored at the very end of the kill to secure the second point as Leon Draisaitl picked up the winner.

HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars

1st Star – Joel Armia 

As upset as some fans are that Kent Hughes did not take advantage of reported offers for Josh Anderson last season, as happy as they might become that he didn’t get rid of Armia when most fans were ready to sell low. This game was another in a recent stretch of games where Armia has been terrific. He’s heavy on the puck creating turnovers on forechecks, finding chemistry with Newhook and Roy, killing penalties, and drawing penalties too. He did all of those things on this night and led the team in shots. Not too shabby for a veteran who started the season in Laval. 

Stats: even, 4 PIMS, 6 shots, 2 hits, 18:40 T.O.I.  

2nd Star – Kaiden Guhle 

Guhle was returning home on this night and had plenty of people in the crowd to see him. Guhle might want to bring those people to the rink more often as he responded in a big way. He was excellent as he did massive work in gap control against two of the NHL’s best in McDavid and Draisaitl. He then found a perfect spot to jump up and create offensively as he tied the game while playing at four-on-four early in the third period. Many young players would lose focus after the goal, but Guhle doubled down and continued to simply shut down the dangerous Oilers. 

Stats: 1 goal, even, 1 shot, 1 hit, 23:50 T.O.I. 

3rd Star – Samuel Montembeault 

It was not the busiest of nights for Montembeault until the Habs got into penalty trouble at the end of the third period. All of a sudden, he had to turn on the jets and make a series of saves that kept the Habs in contention likely longer than they should have. With a four-minute penalty in overtime, he eventually gave it up to the league’s second-best power play, but the effort was certainly there to survive the call, and that’s thanks in large part to Montembeault and his great saves late. 

Stats: 29 saves on 32 shots, .906 save %, 2.85 GAA, 63:13 T.O.I.