MONTREAL - The Canadiens will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak on Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre.
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Here's everything you need to know heading into the game:
The Canadiens started strong against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena, but couldn't finish the job. Dominique Ducharme's squad led 2-0 on goals by defenseman Brett Kulak and centreman Nick Suzuki, before Sheldon Keefe's contingent responded with three unanswered markers en route to a 3-2 win. Pierre Engvall, William Nylander and Mitch Marner solved goaltender Jake Allen in a span of 11:31 in the second period to put the home team over the top. The Maple Leafs clinched first place in the North Division with the victory. Allen finished the game with 23 saves.
Right-winger Alex Belzile played his first career regular season game for the Canadiens and picked up an assist on Kulak's snipe in the opening frame.
The 29-year-old Saint-Eloi, QC native, who went undrafted, logged 8:29 of ice time versus Toronto.
The Canadiens will clinch a playoff spot if they get at least one point tonight.
A Canadiens clinch and a Winnipeg Jets win over the Vancouver Canucks would lock in Toronto vs. Montreal and Edmonton vs. Winnipeg series in the first round.
Cool company: Suzuki's 13th goal of the season on Saturday night made him the 10th player in franchise history to record 80 career points at age 21 or younger and only the third player in the last 35 years to accomplish the feat, joining Alex Galchenyuk and Guillaume Latendresse. When he beat goaltender Jack Campbell with a low wrist shot just 31 seconds into the middle stanza, the 21-year-old London, ON native matched his goal total from his rookie campaign last year. Suzuki is one point away from hitting the 40-point plateau again. He ranks third on the roster in scoring with 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists), trailing only defenseman Jeff Petry (42 points) and right-winger Tyler Toffoli (44 points). The former 13th overall selection has been an offensive force lately, amassing 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in his last nine games.
The chase continues: Toffoli extended his point streak to six games with the primary helper on Suzuki's goal. He has eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) during that span. The 29-year-old Scarborough, ON native has been held without a goal in three straight games, though, so he's due to light the lamp again. Toffoli, who boasts a team-leading 28 goals on the year, is just two markers shy of reaching the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his NHL career. The nine-year veteran has scored only once in six games against Edmonton this season, but the Oilers won't be taking him lightly. No doubt Toffoli will be pushing hard over the next two games to close the regular season in style.
Helping hand: Petry reached the 30-assist plateau for the third time in his NHL career on Saturday night by collecting the secondary helper on Suzuki's tally. He leads the Canadiens in that department this season, four assists clear of Suzuki. The 33-year-old Michigan State University product has assists in seven of the last eight games, amassing nine helpers during that span. His career-high of 33 assists with the Canadiens in 2018-19 is certainly within reach. Petry's also only one goal shy of matching his career-high of 13, which was set that year as well. Goals, however, have been harder to come by for the veteran blueliner recently. He snapped a 22-game drought on May 1 against the Ottawa Senators and hasn't scored since.
At the other end
The Oilers were also in action on Saturday night, posting a 4-3 victory over the Canucks at Rogers Place on the strength of a remarkable four-point performance by captain Connor McDavid. The 24-year-old centreman scored a goal and added three assists en route to reaching the 100-point plateau (32 goals, 68 assists) for the fourth time in his six-year career. Fellow pivot Leon Draisaitl scored twice for Edmonton, while right-winger Jesse Puljujarvi accounted for the other Oilers marker. Goaltender Mike Smith made 22 saves to post his 20th win of the season.
Dave Tippett's squad secured second place in the North Division with their fourth triumph in the last five games.
Connor in context: There's no denying McDavid's magic, but the Canadiens have done a good job against him this year, holding the Richmond Hill, ON native to just eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in seven games. That's his lowest output against any opponent in the North Division. Nevertheless, McDavid is still the best of the best. He registered his seventh outing of four-plus points this season on Saturday night, becoming the ninth player in NHL history to reach the 100-point mark in 53 games or fewer. McDavid required the fewest games to hit the milestone since Mario Lemieux (38 GP) and Jaromir Jagr (52 GP) tore up the League with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96. He's also the fourth player to record at least four 100-point seasons for the Oilers, joining Wayne Gretzky (9), Jarri Kurri (6) and Mark Messier (5). The former first-overall selection in 2015 is the seventh skater in NHL history to register four 100-point campaigns before his 25th birthday. McDavid enters Monday night's encounter riding a five-game point streak during which he has produced a staggering 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists).
Double trouble: Draisaitl registered his third consecutive two-goal performance on Saturday night. The first goal was rather significant because it represented the 500th point of his NHL career. Four of the German sensation's six tallies over the last three contests have come on the power play, so giving him any extra time and space whatsoever really is a recipe for disaster. Like McDavid, the 25-year-old sniper is currently riding a five-game point streak. He has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) during that stretch. The Canadiens, however, deserve plenty of credit for frustrating Draisaitl this season, holding him to just three assists in seven games. When you consider that he ranks second in the League in scoring behind McDavid with 79 points (30 goals, 49 assists), that's quite an accomplishment.
Welcome to the club: Only eight goaltenders in the League have at least 20 victories this season, and Smith is one of them. The 39-year-old Kingston, ON native, who has compiled a 20-6-2 record, has won three of his last four starts. Smith also boasts a 2.28 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage as well, along with three shutouts. The 15-year NHL veteran has a 2-1-1 in record in four appearances versus Montreal this season, along with a 1.99 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and one shutout. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the pack with 31 wins in 41 games.
Here are a few key stats from the seven previous meetings between Edmonton and Montreal this season:
|EDMONTON || ||MONTREAL |
|2-4-1 ||Record ||5-2-0 |
|14 ||Goals ||20 |
|193 ||Shots on goal ||226 |
|10.71% ||PP% ||15% |
|85% ||PK% ||89.29% |
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on TSN2, Sportsnet West and RDS, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.