MONTREAL, PQ - The Edmonton Oilers meet the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre in what is the fourth game in the team's season-high six-game road trip through Eastern Canada and USA.
The Oilers are coming off a tough defeat against the New York Islanders where they played one of their best games of the season but a late Islanders goal ended any chance of an upset.
“Last game I thought we did a good job hanging onto the puck, finding guys. Now it comes down to finishing our chances,” said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson, adding that he felt it was unfortunate the team didn't get awarded any points in the standings on Tuesday night for their strong effort.
“That was probably the most disappointing thing for me last game, that we didn’t get rewarded. As a staff, we have to be positive with the guys about the way we played and we have to build off that. By no means are we satisfied but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Overall, Nelson was very happy with how the team performed and wants to see more of that tonight.
“We talked about it today. I think our compete and battle is a lot better right now. We’re winning battles, a lot more offensive zone time and creating chances. That’s what we have to focus on moving forward. There were games in the past where we didn’t have a lot of offensive zone time and we were chasing the puck all game.”
Nelson added that the team needs to play with a high tempo given their opposition tonight.
“We want to definitely play with a high tempo. We’re going to have to tonight against Montreal. They play a fast game and they all play hard.”
POULIOT OUT AGAIN
Benoit Pouliot skated with the team again but still is not ready for game action. Nelson is hopeful that it will be soon, however.
“No go, but positive sign we got today is he felt really good on the ice. We’re looking at Ottawa as a possible game where he can come back.”
Line combinations will be exactly the same as Tuesday's game:
Purcell - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle Hamilton - Roy - Yakupov Hendricks - Gordon - Klinkhammer Gazdic - Lander - Pakarinen
Season series: Ben Scrivens made 29 saves for his seventh career shutout and Benoit Pouliot had a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers won the first game against the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place. Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall scored the other goals.
Oilers team scope: Several key players from that first game against Montreal are battling injuries. Hall (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and could miss up to six weeks. Scrivens was unable to dress for a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders because of a hamstring injury sustained late in a 2-1 win Monday against the New Jersey Devils. Viktor Fasth started and is likely to go again with Richard Bachman backing him up. Pouliot went on IR as well with a foot injury sustained Feb. 2 against the San Jose Sharks, the same night Hall was hurt, but he's eligible to be activated and was hopeful of playing Thursday. Forward Ryan Hamilton, who at 29 played in his 15th NHL game Tuesday, scored his first goal. Forward Iiro Pakarinen picked up his first NHL point with an assist on the power-play goal.
Canadiens team scope: Goaltender Carey Price and forward Tomas Plekanec took maintenance days and didn't practice Wednesday, according to the Montreal Canadiens website. Manny Malhotra centered the line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher in Plekanec's absence. Backup goalie Dustin Tokarski will start after Price made 23 saves in a 2-1 overtime win Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Price's 2.00 goals-against average and .933 save percentage lead the League. Tokarski started against the Oilers in Edmonton this season and made 16 saves on 18 shots. Forward PA Parenteau is making progress in his recovery from a concussion, coach Michel Therrien said, but he isn't ready to practice yet. The Canadiens have won three in a row to begin a stretch in which they play nine games in 15 days. "We have a busy calendar. I like it. It lets you move on quickly after a bad game," Galchenyuk said in comments tweeted by the team.