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Budaj leads Canadiens past Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Peter Budaj gave the Montreal Canadiens just the lift they needed.

Budaj made 27 saves to win his first start of the season as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Thursday night. The veteran backup goaltender got the start one night after the Canadiens lost 3-2 to the Calgary Flames with Carey Price in goal and allowed only a second-period goal to Ryan Smyth.

Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty scored for the Canadiens, now 2-2-0 for the season and 1-1-0 on a four-game trip through Western Canada that continues against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

"It's tough to win in road buildings in this League, so when you go up in a game you have to take advantage of it," Gallagher said. "Going into the third, we just wanted to hold on to the lead. We know the style that the Oilers like to play. There was a lot of transition game, so you knew that if you turned the puck over that they could make you pay. The tempo was pretty high tonight.

"You can't start a road trip going 0-2, so this was a big win for us."

Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 shots for the Oilers (1-3-0), who begin a six-game Eastern trip by visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Smyth opened the scoring at 2:28 of the second period. He was on his stomach when he redirected Taylor Hall's centering pass behind Budaj.

Smyth, who was a healthy scratch in Monday night's 5-4 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils, took a cross check from Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban but still managed to get a stick on Hall's pass.

Gallagher tied the game at 9:24 by converting a cross-crease feed from Galchenyuk for a power-play goal. The Canadiens capitalized after defenseman Andrew Ference broke his stick on a clearing attempt. Galchenyuk was able to control the puck and slid it past Ference to Gallagher at the side of the net for his third goal of the season.

"Me and Gallagher have played quite a bit," Galchenyuk said. "I love playing with him. He is a fun player. If I give him the puck, he usually makes no mistake with it. He's fast and has great vision."

Prust put the Canadiens up 2-1 at 12:05 by knocking a loose puck past Dubnyk. Subban kept the play alive at the blue line by eluding a pair of Oilers and getting a shot toward the front of the net. The puck was kicked away by Dubnyk, but Prust was left alone to tap in his first of the season.

"I thought it was a great team effort tonight," said Subban, who finished with three assists. "We stuck to the game plan and we didn't get frustrated when they got a goal early on. We battled back and we did it for each other. It feels great to get our first win on this road trip. We have two more really important games and an opportunity to build some momentum coming out of this road trip."

Galchenyuk made it 3-1 at 12:15 of the third when he took a pass from Gallagher on a 2-on-1 rush and buried it for his first of the season.

Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins pulled Dubnyk with more than four minutes remaining, but the Oilers were unable to beat Budaj before Pacioretty hit the empty net with 17.1 seconds remaining.

"I wouldn't mind a break to go our way," Eakins said after his team lost for the third time in four games; the Oilers have scored first in all three losses. "I thought we played a good game, probably the most solid game that we've played so far. Improvement is nice, but it's not good enough if you end up losing the game."

The Oilers were unable to capitalize on a pair of early power plays. They finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

"Our power play needs to take the mindset of the Montreal power play," Eakins said. "Their power play came out and it was one pass and they're bombing. They don't care if you're in the lane or not. That's what you have to do with your power play; you want to develop a shot-first mentality and set them up to go low -- and we didn't do that.

"Sometimes those early power plays never seem to go well in games. The guys aren't into the flow of the game, especially when you get them early like that, back-to-back."

The loss puts the Oilers in a hole heading out on their longest trip of the season.

"It was a matter of missed opportunities at certain times in the night," Ference said. "We showed a lot of jump right off the bat and we got a couple of power plays that I don't think we even got a shot on them. We had some really good shifts and some really good portions of hockey, and it was just taking our foot off the pedal for certain parts of the game.

"It's disappointing. We had some inconsistent shifts where we failed to follow up strong portions of hockey once again."

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