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game recap

Staal scores in OT to defeat Oilers in Canadiens debut

Wins it at 4:02 in first game since March 26 trade; Gallagher injured for Montreal

by Sean Farrell / Independent Correspondent

Staal seals OT win in Habs' debut

EDM@MTL: Staal beats Smith to cap Habs comeback in OT

Eric Staal rips a wrist shot far side by Mike Smith, completing the Canadiens' comeback with an overtime winner in his team debut

  • 01:34 •

MONTREAL -- Eric Staal scored at 4:02 of overtime in his Montreal Canadiens debut for a 3-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Bell Centre on Monday.

Staal took a pass from Tyler Toffoli and scored on a wrist shot past goalie Mike Smith from the right face-off circle.

The center was acquired by the Canadiens in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on March 26. 

"This was a moment for sure that we'll keep in the memory bank, but I'm hoping there's even bigger and better ones here in the next while," Staal said.

Carey Price made 21 saves, and Josh Anderson and Tomas Tatar scored in the third period to tie it 2-2 for Montreal (17-9-9), which is 5-1-2 in its past eight games.

Video: EDM@MTL: Tatar snipes puck home to tie game in 3rd

Smith made 29 saves for Edmonton (23-14-2), which is 2-2 in overtime this season. The Oilers, who are 5-1-2 in their past eight games, lost 4-0 at Montreal on March 30.

"You look at their team, they just come out and work, I don't think there's any real secret to it or their system," Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse said. "They come out working, they play hard, and they play well. It feels like every time we play them, they have a real solid game. That's kind of their identity, to keep things out of the middle and work. That's why they're on the right side tonight."

Staal had gone 23 games without a goal since he scored for the Sabres in a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 30. He arrived in Montreal on March 27 and began a mandatory seven-day quarantine. He skated Sunday for the first time since the trade.

"I just love that we stayed with it and competed," Staal said. "Tonight was a lot of fun to be a part of, and I could feel the energy through the TV screens. I wish it was full because I know what this place is like when it's full in that type of moment. But it was awesome nonetheless, and I was thankful that it was my opportunity tonight, but as a group we've got a lot of different guys that can be difference makers here."

It was Montreal's first overtime goal of the season. The Canadiens have lost six games in overtime and lost the first three of their four games decided in the shootout.

"I'm sure he's very happy," Tatar said of Staal. "I think he deserved it. He played a very hard game. He was very strong in the (face-off) circle, and he had some opportunities. We're obviously very happy for him to get the monkey off the back, you know, playing for a new team."

Video: EDM@MTL: Perry, Anderson team up to trim deficit

Anderson drew Montreal within 2-1 at 1:45 of the third when he deflected Corey Perry's pass.

Tatar tied it 2-2 with a wrist shot past Smith's glove from the right face-off circle at 5:23.

"We weren't on our toes as much as we should," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. "Then once they got the first one, we got back to playing a little bit, and a mistake cost us the second one. So the best way to protect the lead is to play in the other team's end, and the first five minutes we were passive, didn't didn't do enough forechecking to give us the momentum we needed."

Nurse put Edmonton up 2-0 when he scored on the power play with 11 seconds remaining in the second period. It was his 13th goal, the most by a defenseman in the NHL this season.

Smith made 14 saves in the first period, and Devin Shore scored on Edmonton's fifth shot on goal to make it 1-0 with 21 seconds remaining. He was left unchecked on the right side and scored into an open right side after Jujhar Khaira carried the puck behind the net before setting him up with a backhand pass across the crease.

NOTES: Staal is the first player in Canadiens history to score in overtime in his debut with them. He is one of 10 NHL players to do so in his first game with a team since 1983-84, when regular-season OT was reintroduced, and the third this season (Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild, Jan. 14; Aleksi Heponiemi, Florida Panthers, Jan. 30). ... Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher left the game after he was struck by teammate Alexander Romanov's shot in the first period. Coach Dominique Ducharme said he has a broken thumb. ... Edmonton will complete a three-game road trip with a two-game set at the Ottawa Senators beginning Wednesday. The second game was moved to Thursday from Friday by the NHL on Monday. … With Staal, the Canadiens became the fifth NHL team since 1943-44 to have at least six players who previously won the Stanley Cup after having none the previous season. Staal won the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. He joined Perry (Anaheim Ducks, 2007), Michael Frolik (Chicago Blackhawks, 2013), Toffoli (Los Angeles Kings, 2014) and Jake Allen and Joel Edmundson (St. Louis Blues, 2019). The 1994-95 Blues, with seven Cup winners, are the only team that did not win the Stanley Cup the previous season. The others are: 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers (19 Cup winners), 1980-81 New York Islanders (22) and 1989-90 Calgary Flames (20).

Video: Canadiens rally in 3rd, win it on Staal's OT goal

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