He scored the last goal in their last meeting, tallying the overtime winner in Montreal on April 5 in his Canadiens debut, and Eric Staal scored the first goal on Monday as well, cutting hard to the net and having Corey Perry's pass go off his skate and in at 6:46 of the middle frame for his second in nine games since getting acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on March 26.
PLAY OF THE GAME
With the game deadlocked 1-1 and seeming destined for overtime, Connor McDavid collected the puck at the Oilers blueline after a massive, turnover-inducing check on Tomas Tatar by Jesse Puljujarvi, burst through the neutral zone, split Montreal's defencemen and roofed a forehand wrist shot on Jake Allen for his 24th of the season to give Edmonton the lead at 15:11 of the final frame.
SAVE OF THE GAME
Facing a 1-0 deficit, the Oilers were pouring on the pressure in the early stages of the third period, forcing Montreal netminder Jake Allen - who took over for Carey Price to start the second - to make several big-time saves, including an impressive glove denial on Josh Archibald at the six-minute mark. The Edmonton winger took a pass from Leon Draisaitl and got in alone on net, lifting a diving backhand while getting checked by Jeff Petry, only to see it snared by Allen's trapper.
After four unsuccessful power plays and a barrage of other scoring chances, the Oilers were finally able to find the back of the net at 10:49 of the third period as McDavid made a magnificent pass from the side of the net to Ethan Bear cutting into the slot and the defenceman stepped into a slap shot, finding the top shelf for his first goal of the season and a thrilling 1-1 equalizer to cue the comeback.
McDavid scored the game-winner and set up Edmonton's first and third goals for his 72nd, 73rd and 74th points of the season to strengthen his grasp on his third Art Ross Trophy in five years.
Edmonton has now won eight consecutive home games, outscoring their opponents 32-13, converting 23.1 percent of power-play chances and posting a .940 save percentage. McDavid has scored eight goals and 11 assists during the streak. The franchise record for consecutive home wins was set in 2016-17 when the Oilers won nine in a row during their first season at Rogers Place.
McDavid now has 24 goals and 50 assists in 44 games, requiring the fewest games to reach the 50-assist mark in a season in Oilers franchise history since Wayne Gretzky's 33 games in 1987-88.
With his 1-1 goal, Bear snapped a 48-game goalless drought with his most recent previous goal coming on Feb. 6, 2020 at home against the San Jose Sharks. He had five goals in 71 games last season.
After Monday's raucous affair, these two teams will square off again on Wednesday at Rogers Place before the Oilers will have yet another extended break, getting four days off and heading back to Winnipeg on Sunday for road games against the Jets next Monday and Wednesday.
"I'm never really afraid to take on two defenders," McDavid said of his game-winning goal in the third. "Jesse did a great job back-checking, separating the guy from the puck and it popped free. I was able to get it in good stride and the D were kind of scrambling back, so I just tried to make a play."
"That's the kind of hockey we're going to have down the stretch," Bear said of the intense, physical matchup that featured 67 hits between the two teams. "Everyone is trying to push for the playoffs and make sure they're ready, so when playoff time comes you just play. It's about building your game and I think we're doing a good job of that."
"It was a tight, playoff-style game and I liked the way we stayed with it and got the win," Head Coach Dave Tippett said of the victory that improved the Oilers record to 27-15-2.