Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) scores a goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault (35) during the first period at Bell Centre on Jan. 29, 2022.
Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) scores a goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault (35) during the first period at Bell Centre on Jan. 29, 2022. Photo by Jean-Yves Ahern /USA TODAY Sports

Oilers 7, Canadiens 2

It was something of Opposite George Night for the Edmonton Oilers at Centre Bell on Saturday, a sloppy affair which saw the visiting squad roll to a 7-2 win against the understaffed, overmatched Montreal Canadiens.

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The Oilers actually scored first in a game for the first time in 44 days, and poured in the goals from there with contributions from up and down the line-up. All 4 lines scored, 5 of the 6 d-men had assists, and 14 of the 18 skaters found the scoresheet in some fashion. In all, the Oil pumped home a season-high 7 tallies — all of them at even strength, and most of them from the low slot. That one of the few who didn’t score a point was none other than Connor McDavid emphasizes that this was not exactly “Situation Normal”.

The Oilers needed just 16 shots to score 6 times and drive an overmatched Sam Montembeault from the net after the middle frame. This after mustering just 5 goals in 96 shots in their two prior games.

On the night the underlying numbers suggest this game was a wash, with the Oilers outshooting the Habs 24-23, the Canadiens holding a 43-42 edge in shot attempts, and both teams sawing off with 19 hits and 27 faceoff wins apiece. But the Oilers had the better looks, holding a 13-5 advantage in our count of Grade A shots  and of course that commanding 7-2 bulge on the big scoreboard.

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Player grades

#2 Duncan Keith, 7.  A solid night’s work with a couple of secondary assists and a +2 rating. His “active stick” contributed a couple of good defensive plays, deflecting pucks out of danger. 1 shot, 2 blocks.

#5 Cody Ceci, 6. Threw his biggest hit as an Oiler in the early going when he rocked Artturi Lehkonen trying to enter the Edmonton zone, then crunched the same opponent later on that same shift.

#6 Kris Russell, 7. His 900th game as an NHLer was a good one. Rang the post with a good outside shot through a double screen, then seconds later fired another point shot that Hyman tipped home for the 2-0. Kept things tidy in his own end of the ice, as the Habs mustered just 3 shots on net during his 15 minutes of action.

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#10 Derek Ryan, 7. It was a solid night’s work for the 4th line, with Ryan mostly lining up at right wing. The Oilers didn’t surrender a single shot on net during his 10: 47 minutes of work at 5v5, and he also led the team with 1: 18 on the penalty kill. 4/7=57% on the dot. The cherry on top was the one-time laser he fired home in the final minute of play, his third goal of the season.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. As usual he got his big body in good spots and disrupted the flow. But didn’t have a lot of flow of his own. 0 shots on net, passing up his best opportunity when he unselfishly passed back to Draisaitl on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Caught on the wrong side of the puck on the first Montreal goal, but made up for it by winning a battle for possession leading to the 6-2.

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#14 Devin Shore, 7. Was a big part of an effective fourth line, with similar shot shares as Ryan, in Shore’s case 5-0 in 12 minutes at 5v5. A couple of hits, a blocked shot, and a very fine pass to Ryan for the point-after-touchdown.

#18 Zach Hyman, 9. Found instant chemistry with RNH and Kassian on a revamped third line that on this night was Edmonton’s best. Broke out of his extended offensive drought in a big way, scoring twice and adding an assist. Scored the first on a simple deflection, but the latter two points were beauties off of extended possessions by #18. On one he finally found some clean air with the puck and immediately whipped a perfect pass to RNH in the low slot for the snipe; on the other he finished the job himself with a perfect shot.

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#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. A low-event night for the rangy defender, playing “just” 22: 42 with 1 shot and 1 hit. Unable to clean up the mess on the first Montreal goal, he was on the ice for 3 Oilers tallies and ended the night with a tidy enough 0-1-1, +2.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 7. He got run by the big-hitting Alexander Romanov in the early going, but it was the Hab who went down after Drai bounced him. Not on the very top of his game, but still managed to find the twine twice — his ELEVENTH brace of the season. The first was a big of a fortunate bounce off an opponent, the second a conversion of a sudden chance in tight to the net. Robbed on a  breakaway when Foegele sent him in alone late in the first. Had a couple of more excellent chances to complete the hat trick in the third but was stoned by Montreal’s second goalie Cayden Primeau on a fine shorthanded rush and a  2-on-0 breakaway where he tried to feed Puljujarvi only to receive the quick return pass. Led the Oilers with 5 shots — all of them dangerous — and 10/18=56% on the dot, though his clean faceoff loss led directly to Montreal’s powerplay goal.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 8. All over the puck all night, leading the Oilers with 7 shot attempts and 2 takeaways while earning the primary assist on both of Draisaitl’s goals. Made a number of fine passes. Tower of power.

#44 Zack Kassian, 6. All of a sudden the Oilers look mighty big on the flanks. Kassian used his own big body to good effect at times, casting a couple of screens and landing a couple of hits. Took a run at Montembault and knocked the goalie’s helmet clean off, landing himself in the penalty box though not for long as the Habs scored just 3 seconds into the subsequent powerplay. Was called to account by Michael Pezzetta in a late-game scrap and wound up bleeding from the eye, even as it was Kassian who appeared to be landing most of the punches. 0 shot attempts but an assist and +3 on the night.

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#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 6. Chipped in on the critical opening goal with a secondary assist, a good pass to Bouchard for the point shot. Fairly quiet otherwise on a first line that might need some time to click. Led all Oilers forwards in ice time with 18: 09 on a night that Tippett shared the wealth.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 5. The only Oiler not to record a plus on the night, and didn’t muster a shot either. Did have some good moments transporting the puck and his line gave up nothing at all the other way. Got smoked by a heavy hit by Romanov.

#74 Stuart Skinner, 6. Struggled from the outset with puckhandling and rebound control, failing to contain the first shot he faced, a 132-footer (!) from Jeff Petry that nearly ate him up. Leaked a messy rebound on the Habs’ first goal. Settled down as the game progressed, and made a couple of excellent saves along the way in a shaky second period by the Oil. 24 shots, 22 saves, .917 save percentage and the all-important W.

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#75 Evan Bouchard, 6. Strange game with 0 shots on net and 3 giveaways, but earned an assist on the critical opening goal with a good low shot that Kane tipped home. Among the culprits on the first Habs goal, but still wound up +3 on the night.

#84 William Lagesson, 6. Won some battles, earned a secondary assist and kept a clean sheet at the defensive end. Made an excellent one-on-one stop of Jake Evans to thwart a dangerous-looking play. 2 shots on net including one Grade B shot off a McDavid feed as he continues to hunt for that elusive first NHL goal.

#91 Evander Kane, 6. Made an excellent first impression, deflecting home Bouchard’s shot to open the scoring, something the Oilers hadn’t done for a month and a half. Otherwise appeared fairly rusty, not surprising in that he hasn’t played an NHL game all season nor a pro game of any description since mid-December. Did muster 3 shots and 4 hits, one of them of type “borderline” on Nick Suzuki. Made a bad turnover, then got beaten on the counter attack on an odd-man rush that led to a fine Montreal chance. He and McDavid were clearly sizing each other up on a night that neither man was at his instinctive best.

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#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Played a strong game at 3C between Hyman and Kassian, chipping in 1-1-2, +3. His goal came at a key time, converting Hyman’s pass with a quick low shot to restore Edmonton’s 3-goal lead just 2 minutes after Montreal had cut the lead to 3-1.

#97 Connor McDavid, 5. An uncharacteristically quiet night, contributing to just 1 Grade A shot after piling up 14 and 12 in the prior two games. 2 low-angle shots on net. Kept things quiet defensively and made one nifty steal to thwart a developing Montreal chance. Played just 17: 27 as the Oilers played with a multi-goal lead for the last 48 minutes.

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