Montreal did NOT look like a team that hadn't played in 10 days or missed a week of practice as they lit the lamp just 18 seconds in on a crisp passing play finished off by Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The home squad entered the zone on a three-on-two rush with Kotkaniemi in the middle and the young Finn passed the puck to his left to Paul Byron, who curled around Ethan Bear and got it back to Kotkaniemi in front for the point-blank one-timer past Mikko Koskinen.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Kotkaniemi's opening marker held up as the highlight of the night for the Habs as their next two goals were mad scramble conversions in the crease and their final tally was a one-timer that squeaked through Koskinen. The Finnish finish was the centreman's fifth goal of the season and 22nd in 147 career games since Montreal selected him third overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.
SAVE OF THE GAME
The Oilers were under siege for most of the opening period and Koskinen was forced to make several tough saves just to keep his team down by three through 20 minutes. His best of the frantic frame came with six minutes left on the clock as Tomas Tatar got the puck alone at the side of the net but Koskinen dove across and denied the sharp-angle shot with his blocker for one of his 29 saves on the night.
For a few moments in the middle frame the Oilers were on the board and had cut Montreal's lead to 3-1 at the time when Connor McDavid scorched a wrist shot past Price for what would have been his 22nd goal of the season. However, the Canadiens challenged the play for offside and the video review showed that Jesse Puljujarvi's skate was indeed fully over the blueline before McDavid entered the attacking zone with the puck, negating what could have been a momentum-swinging marker. Shortly thereafter, Tatar extended the home team's lead to 4-0 through 40 minutes.
Price has been nearly perfect in his two starts against the Oilers this year, back-stopping Montreal to a 5-1 win in the opening week of the season on Jan. 16 with a sparkling 34-save performance and following that up with his shutout on Tuesday to improve to 11-5-5 overall and 6-1-2 in his last nine appearances.
A pair of Montreal forwards snapped lengthy goal-less droughts as Brendan Gallagher kicked his 10-game skid to the curb while Artturi Lehkonen had gone 13 games without lighting the lamp.
With the unscheduled pit stop in Montreal on their way back to Edmonton out of the way, the Oilers will now return home to Rogers Place for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday against the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, respectively. They'll head right back to Montreal for another road matchup next Monday, looking for a little revenge.
"Lack of energy is no excuse, we just have to play flat-out better," Adam Larsson said of the Oilers closing out a lengthy, unorthodox road trip with the second game of a back-to-back set.
"This was one of the longest road trips I've ever been on and we played three games," McDavid said of having three matchups in Montreal postponed before going 1-0-1 in Toronto. "Lots of sitting around doing nothing, but overall I liked our two games in Toronto and didn't like our one here tonight."
"That's a good reset for us," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "There have been some things in our game that have been kind of under current... This trip was not ideal but we'll go home now, get a reset, get a practice in and get ready for the weekend."