CANADIENS (2-2-0) at OILERS (1-1-1)
Season Series: First of two meetings this season between a pair of Canadian rivals. They split last season, with the home team winning each time. Edmonton took a 7-2 rout on Feb. 11 and Montreal retaliated with a 4-3 overtime on March 10.
Big Story: There figures to be plenty of snarl in this game, as neither team can be happy with its most recent outcome. The Canadiens got demolished 7-1 by a Vancouver squad that had entered with issues of its own. The Oilers, meanwhile, lost another one-goal heartbreaker to their Alberta rivals, the Flames.
Canadiens: This game marks the end of a season-opening, five-game road trip for Montreal, which will be rewarded when it arrives home for six in a row at the Bell Centre. What started off in grand fashion with overtime wins over Northeast Division rivals Toronto and Buffalo has stalled with consecutive losses against Calgary and Vancouver. Goaltender Carey Price was shelled against the Canucks, but newcomer Mike Cammalleri said the whole team shoulders the blame.
"It's terrible. We didn't do a good job for him the first two games and he stood on his head, he was Superman," Cammalleri said. "We've all been on road trips before. We're pro athletes. We've got to come with better than that."
Oilers: All that stands between Edmonton and a 3-0-0 start is a couple of late goals by Calgary. The Flames won one game at Rexall Place in the final minute of regulation on a misplayed puck by Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, then tied a second game with 1.5 seconds remaining and went on to win in a shootout. Edmonton also owns a shootout win over Dallas.
"Disappointing, for sure. When you're losing points like that early in the season, it's tough," forward Ales Hemsky said of the missed opportunities against the Flames.
Who's Hot -- Of the many free-agent signings by Montreal, defenseman Paul Mara has the most points so far, contributing four assists. Edmonton's leading scorer in the early going is also a blueliner, Denis Grebeshkov, with one goal and three assists.
Injury Report: In addition to long-term injuries to defensemen Andrei Markov and Ryan O'Byrne, the Canadiens lost forward Glen Metropolit to an upper-body injury in their win over Buffalo last Saturday.
Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray suffered a mild concussion against the Flames, while defenseman Steve Staios missed that game also due to a concussion. He was back skating on Friday. Forward Marc Pouliot has yet to play this season.
Stat Pack: Khabibulin has played all 189 minutes of Edmonton's season so far, and will be looking to improve on a pedestrian 3.49 goals-against average and .867 save percentage. Montreal gave up three power-play goals to Vancouver and has the second-worst penalty-killing percentage in the League at 56.2 percent.
Puck Drop: With the exception of the Canadiens' debacle against the Canucks, the other six games played by these teams this season have all been one-goal affairs.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com