Not that it was a surprise. A game like this seems to inevitably happen somewhere along the way on one of these Western Canadian road trips.
The Canadiens were fortunate to get out of Calgary with a 4-3 overtime win after trailing 2-0 in the first period. Chances of coming back from 0-2 for a second straight game were somewhere between slim and nil.
The Canadiens came out flat. By the time Edmonton had their 2-0 lead the shots on goal were 12-6 and they had six high danger scoring chances. But then Jeff Petry scored a shorthand goal and Phillip Danault’s power play goal tied it at 2-2. Jordan Weal then picked up his second offensive zone penalty of the game and Connor McDavid scored on the power play to regain the lead. Domi tied it. But on his next shift Domi turned the puck over and the Oilers scored what proved to be the game winner on a two-on-one break.
Self-defeating is the description that comes to mind.
NO ROOM FOR ERROR
This loss ended a four game road winning streak. With Buffalo, Toronto and Florida all winning their Saturday night games, the loss also dropped the Canadiens from second to fifth place in the volatile Atlantic Division standings. We’re going to see a lot of that over the season’s next three-plus months.
I’ve seen Jeff Petry play some excellent games since he joined the Canadiens. This one ranked at the top. He scored a shorthand goal. His shot was re-directed by Phillip Danault to tie the game and he sent Domi and Lehkonen away on a 2-on-1 that tied the game at 3-3. He was a force offensively and strong on the puck in his own end. Seven of his team-leading shots were on-goal. A three point game for the fourth time in his career.
BACK TO BASICS
It may have been wishful thinking that after his last three games Max Domi was regaining the form of last season. Yes, he did make a good move to score the Canadiens third goal, his second in two games which gives him four points on the road trip. But, on defense he had a terrible night. On the Oilers second goal he had his pocket picked and the Oilers turned that into a defensive zone mess. And as we mentioned early, the winning goal was also the result of a Domi turnover.
The Edmonton Oilers entered Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens holding the best power play in the NHL at almost 30%. Don’t take penalties is one of the first things the Canadiens coaching staff would have mentioned in their pregame meeting. They took five of them, three of them whistled down in the offensive zone. The Oilers power play goal was a momentum killer coming minutes after the Canadiens had tied the game at 2-2.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….After seeming to come out of their early season issues, the Canadiens penalty killers have given up a goal in each of the last five games. On the other hand the power play has scored six goals over the last eight games.
….Not a great night for the defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot. They were beaten badly on the game’s first goal. On the Oilers power play goal, Chiarot over-commited and Weber wasn’t able to handle McDavid’s speed up the middle. That gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead.
….The bar is low when it comes to Artturi Lehkonen and offense, but I thought had an excellent game. He had a breakaway while killing the first Canadiens penalty and he was right beside Jeff Petry on the two-on one that produced the shorthanded goal to make the score 2-1. As usual he was strong defensively.
….This was the seventh time this season the Canadiens were able to recover from a two-goal deficit. Until this game they were able to at least collect a point in the game (3-1-3).
….The Canadiens offense depends more on shot volume than slick goalscoring plays. Perfect example was the final two minutes of the second period. For the entire time they had the Oilers pinned in their own end. During that stretch they took six shots at the Oiler net. Only one reached the net. Three were blocked and two missed. And then the period ended.
….The Canadiens collected five momentum stalling penalties in the game. Three of them came in the offensive zone, two by Weal and Phillip Danault.
….Starting with the eight game losing streak the Canadiens now have a record of 6-8-3 over their last seventeen games. They are 5-2-0 over their last seven and 9-5-3 on the road.
….From the stats sheet – Brendan Gallagher equaled Petry’s seven shots on goal. He attempted 13 shots. Cale Fleury again led the team in hits with four and Max Domi won 64% of his faceoffs (9 of 14). Chiarot led the team in ice time again with 28;10.
….One statistic stands out: the Oilers were forced into giving the puck away 20 times to only five by the Canadiens. The Canadiens capitilized on the turnovers only once.
The Canadiens will play in Winnipeg Monday night to complete the pre-Christmas road trip. The Jets will be coming off a 6-0 win over Minnesota Saturday night. They’ll fly home for the holiday celebration and resume the seven game road trip with back to back games in Tampa Bay and Florida next Saturday and Sunday followed by a New Year’s Eve game at Carolina. Next home game January 2nd against Tampa.