MONTREAL -- It's amazing what some good goaltending can do for a team.
Getting a little added motivation from the opposition doesn't hurt either.
The Edmonton Oilers got both on Tuesday, and they came away with a big come-from-behind win.
Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves and Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Arcobello each had two assists as the Oilers erased an early 2-0 deficit to charge back and defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Tuesday.
Canadiens center Lars Eller ruffled more than a few feathers in the Edmonton room earlier Tuesday when he compared the Oilers to a junior team, saying, "They take a lot risks, a lot of chances. They're a little all over the place. There's not a lot of structure always in their game. It can really be anything. You don't know."
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins was very grateful for Eller's openness afterward.
"It's games like that where you don't really need to go play them," Eakins said before even taking a question from reporters after the game. "When you have a player like Lars Eller running his mouth before the game, it makes for great banter in our dressing room and great motivation. So, we thank Lars Eller for his comments before the game. Awesome."
Eakins admitted he was quite pleased when he caught wind of Eller's comments prior to the game.
"Loved it," Eakins said. "He may as well have sent me over a fruit basket and a bottle of wine. I was like, 'Man, that is just perfect.' That was a really great present that Mr. Eller laid on us [Tuesday]."
Eller did not speak to reporters after the game, though his coach Michel Therrien admitted it may not have been a good move on his part to take jabs at his opponent the morning of a game.
"He's a young player, and he'll learn from it," Therrien said. "They were inappropriate comments."
Eakins may have credited Eller with providing the motivation for the victory, but the Oilers did not look like a very motivated bunch in the first period. They were outshot 14-8 and were it not for Dubnyk, they could have been down more than 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Dubnyk allowed 22 goals on 151 shots in his first five starts, but he turned away 64 of 68 shots to earn wins in Ottawa on Saturday and in Montreal on Tuesday while at the same time giving himself a big confidence boost.
The fact his play was a source of panic among Oilers fans through his first five starts was not lost on Dubnyk, and he was relieved that he may be on the road to dousing that panic with his last two games.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I was all fine and dandy while everybody was talking about me," Dubnyk said. "It's just nice to get out and get settled and feel like myself and get into the flow of playing regular hockey games and not giving up four or five a night."
"I think just as a morale booster, having some momentum going back home is going to be huge for us," said Nugent-Hopkins, who has two goals and three assists the past two games. "I thought during times on the road trip we played really well and didn't get the results we wanted, but at other times, we didn't play so well. So, it's nice to see us get two big wins here in the last two games."
Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Brian Gionta scored for the Canadiens (5-4-0), who have lost two straight games for the first time this season. Carey Price stopped 28 of 32 shots and gave up four goals for the first time since a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season opener.
Montreal fell victim to what has become a pattern this season of starting strong but giving momentum back in the second period. Through nine games, the Canadiens have been outscored 9-6 in the second periods of games, while they have outscored the opposition 22-10 in the first and third periods combined.
"We're able to impose the rhythm when we start the game," Therrien said. "We focus on one period at a time and we're concentrated on the first, but for reasons that are hard to explain, maybe a lack of maturity, we're unable to maintain the same tempo and level of concentration."
Down 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Oilers took over the game from that point onward, scoring the next four goals.
Hemsky got it started at 12:50 of the second when he took a feed from Arcobello at the Canadiens blue line, weaved his way into the slot and beat Price with a wrist shot to the stick side for his third goal of the season.
Hemsky scored on the Oilers' 13th shot of the game. They would score three more times on their next 17 shots to take control.
Edmonton tied the game 2-2 at 15:37 of the second when Price kicked out a Nugent-Hopkins shot into the faceoff circle right to Smid, who put it in the open net for his first of the season.
Petry put the Oilers up 3-2 at 7:59 of the third while the two teams were playing 4-on-4. Jordan Eberle got it started by winning a one-on-one battle with Josh Gorges in the Oilers zone, sending Petry away through the neutral zone. Petry made a nice feed to Nugent-Hopkins at the Canadiens blue line and took the return feed in the slot with a wide open net to shoot at for his second of the season.
Jones made up for an earlier gaffe that cost the Oilers a goal by providing the insurance goal, jumping on a rebound of a David Perron for his first goal of the season at 9:57 of the third to make it 4-2 Edmonton.
Gionta scored his second of the season with 1.4 seconds to play in regulation for the Canadiens.
The game began rather sloppily, with both teams struggling to string a few passes together, but the Canadiens began taking over in the second half of the first period.
Montreal pinned the Oilers in their territory for an entire shift, resulting in a tripping penalty by Luke Gazdic to give the Canadiens a power play. Six seconds later, Andrei Markov found Plekanec with a pass through the teeth of the Oilers' penalty-kill unit, and Plekanec put it through Dubnyk's legs at 16:36 for his fourth goal of the season.
The lead was doubled 87 seconds later when a Jones pass was picked off by Gallagher at the Edmonton blue line and he got position on Anton Belov before beating Dubnyk to the glove side at 18:03 to make it 2-0 Montreal.
|PPG - Tomas Plekanec (4) ASST: Andrei Markov (4), Michael Bournival (2)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Brendan Gallagher (5) ASST: NONE|
2 - 0 MTL
|Ales Hemsky (3) ASST: Mark Arcobello (9)|
2 - 1 MTL
|Ladislav Smid (1) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (3), Jordan Eberle (6)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Jeff Petry (2) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4), Jordan Eberle (7)|
3 - 2 EDM
|Ryan Jones (1) ASST: David Perron (6), Mark Arcobello (10)|
4 - 2 EDM
|Brian Gionta (2) ASST: Tomas Plekanec (2), P.K. Subban (9)|
4 - 3 EDM
|David Perron Roughing against Brendan Gallagher|
|Luke Gazdic Tripping against Rene Bourque|
|Travis Moen Unsportsmanlike conduct against Luke Gazdic|
|Luke Gazdic Unsportsmanlike conduct against Travis Moen|
|Michael Bournival Roughing against Ladislav Smid|
|Ladislav Smid Roughing against Michael Bournival|
|David Desharnais Holding against Nail Yakupov|
|Ryan White Roughing against Ryan Jones|
|Ryan Jones Roughing against Ryan White|