MONTREAL – Ben Scrivens turned the tables on his former club on Saturday afternoon, and earned his first win in a Canadiens uniform in the process.
In turning aside 23 shots, Scrivens played a key role in helping Michel Therrien’s troops secure a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre. The win snapped the CH’s four-game losing streak dating back to Jan. 25, and marked the first time they’d managed to put up a number in the win column on home ice in exactly one month.
It was the 29-year-old Spruce Grove, AB native’s first win in the NHL ranks since Mar. 25, 2015 when he was still plying his trade in his home province.
“The biggest thing is that we got a win,” said Scrivens, who was making his fifth start with the Canadiens since being acquired from Edmonton on Dec. 28. “We’re kind of in a bit of a struggle right now, so hopefully that’s a good game for us that we can build off of. That’s all that really matters to me.”
Scrivens got plenty of goal support in the Canadiens’ second matinee of the season. Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban got the better of Oilers starter Cam Talbot through 40 minutes of play, before Tom Gilbert got in on the action in the third period with his first goal of the year on back-up Anders Nilsson.
The Cornell University grad, meanwhile, set the tone for his performance early with multiple saves that gave his club a shot of energy to mount a relentless attack on the Oilers’ goal the rest of the way.
“You just go out there and try to stop pucks when they’re fired in your direction. That’s all you can control. If that gives the guys a boost, then it gives them a boost. If not, you’re still trying to do it. For me personally, though, it was good to get a rhythm going early,” explained Scrivens, whose last start came 11 days ago in a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “I kind of like these 2 o’clock starts. You don’t have a pre-game skate. You’re not killing most the day before 7 o’clock, and then you’re starting to get rolling. It’s kind of your peak energy time.”
Given the way Scrivens’ tenure with the Oilers came to a close, it’s safe to say he wasn’t going to be short on energy no matter what time the two teams were scheduled to square off. Back in October, Edmonton elected to waive Scrivens for the purpose of assigning him to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Immigration issues that prevented him from playing followed suit, and the Canadiens’ No. 40 didn’t see much playing time behind starter Laurent Brossoit.
“I’m not bitter about getting traded. I guess, if there’s any bitterness, it’s how I perceived myself getting buried – to get sent down without a visa and spin your tires for three weeks, and then get spot duty,” said Scrivens, who boasts 134 games of NHL experience on his resume dating back to 2011-12 “I played 57 games in the NHL last year, and [it was hard] to kind of have that go against you. It’s a new management group. At the end of the day, it’s a business. I’m still friends with some of the guys on the team. Bitterness comes with how I was treated on the way out, which I guess leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But, what can you do, right?”
All Scrivens could do was go out and stymie Todd McLellan’s group all afternoon long and keep the likes of Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle at bay. He did just that, and may have earned a shot at the Carolina Hurricanes on Super Bowl Sunday as a result. Therrien, however, wasn’t about to reveal Sunday’s starter in his post-game press conference.
“It felt pretty good today. I think the guys played well in front of me, especially in the third. We killed the clock pretty good,” said Scrivens, who stalled Edmonton’s winning streak at two games. “I think we went almost 10 minutes there without a whistle. It’s a good way for us to ice the game and close it out.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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