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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Canadiens

The Oilers complete a back-to-back with a match against the Montreal Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers welcome the Montreal Canadiens to Rogers Place Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet & CBC or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs MTL 12.21.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Edmonton's dressing room, including a blog on NCAA running back sensation and Sherwood Park product Chuba Hubbard meeting the Oilers.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - Bienvenu, les Canadiens.

Less than 24 hours after a 5-2 setback courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Oilers have another shot at righting the ship when they host the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place on Saturday.

It's always a souped-up atmosphere when the Original Six franchise enters the building and Hockey Night in Canada only injects that much more energy.

Members of the Orange & Blue are less concerned with their combatants in bleu, blanc et rouge and the surrounding hoopla.

The club is focused, more so, on returning to their A-game and ending their current funk. The Oilers are 3-6-1 in the last 10 matches and currently slipping down a two-game losing slope.

"I think the thing about this League is you play a lot of hockey," Oilers forward Zack Kassian, who notched his 13th goal of the season on Friday, said post-game. "I think everyone should be a little upset. We have a chance to redeem ourselves tomorrow. That's the only thing you really can do. We can't dwell on the fact that we lost. 

"Obviously, it's frustrating, but we get another kick at the can tomorrow against another good team."

UNEVEN STRENGTH 

The Oilers have had trouble finding the back of the net, notching six goals in the past four contests. 

The club knows they need to find more offence if they're going to come away with a few points before the Christmas break.

"Through an 82-game season, there are ebbs and flows through the process of the game," Kassian said. 

"At the beginning of the year, we were making mistakes but we were outscoring our mistakes and it wasn't a big deal. Now, we're in a little bit of a rut offensively at 5-on-5. We're pushing and sometimes when you push, you dig yourself a deeper hole."

The Oilers are averaging 2.87 goals per game, putting them 20th in the National Hockey League in that regard.

"We're playing catch-up and we're finding out the hard way that it's a tough league to win in if you do so," Kassian said.

The Orange & Blue have scored 67 goals at 5-on-5 and have been outscored 39-36 in the first period when playing five aside.

"It looks worse than it is because we've chased so many games," said Head Coach Dave Tippett. "And part of that is our inability to capitalize on anything 5-on-5. If you look, our special teams were carrying us for a while, our goaltending was carrying us for a while… 

"We need the 5-on-5 scoring."

LINEUP NOTES

The Oilers will not skate Saturday morning. Tippett will hold a pre-game media avail at 3:00 PM MT.

The bench boss confirmed Koskinen would start on Saturday. 

Lines, news and notes will be made apparent after Tippett speaks and during warmups.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Tippett

PREVIEW

OILERS (19-15-4) vs. CANADIENS (17-12-6)

TV: 5:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet & CBC

Head-to-Head:

This is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Canadiens in the 2019-20 season.

Edmonton went 1-0-1 against the Habs in '18-19, with Leon Draisaitl topping all Oilers in points with three goals and two assists in two affairs.

Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin had three points apiece for Montreal, while Carey Price and Antti Niemi split goaltending duties in the season series.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers were dropped 5-2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, marking the club's sixth loss in the last seven outings.

Despite the L, the club is still two points off the Pacific Division lead, trailing both the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights, who both have 44 points.

Connor McDavid and Draisaitl were held pointless in Friday's tilt with the Pens but remain the top two scorers in the League with 59 and 58 points, respectively.

Koskinen is 12-6-2 this season and 5-3-2 at Rogers Place with a home goals-against average of 2.94 and save percentage of .907.

Canadiens team scope:

The Canadiens are currently victorious on their four-game Western Canadian road trip, downing the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 and edging the Calgary Flames in overtime 4-3.

Montreal's two-game winning streak has them at a 17-12-6 record with 40 points, sitting second in the Atlantic Division. The Habs are 6-3-1 in their last 10 outings and 9-4-3 on the road.

Tomas Tatar leads Montreal in scoring with 13 goals and 30 points, one ahead of captain Shea Weber, who has 11 goals and 29 points. Goaltender Carey Price is 15-10-3 on the campaign with a .907 save percentage and 2.84 goals-against average.

By the Numbers:

The Habs have four players with double-digit goal totals (Tatar, Weber, Gallagher, Armia). ... McDavid has 33 points in 17 games at home this season (10G, 23A) while Draisaitl has 30 points (9G, 21A). ... Montreal is 5-1-0 in their last six games, averaging 2.83 goals per game and only 1.67 against over that time. ... Price is 3-7-1 all-time versus the Oilers with a 3.66 GAA and .860 S%. ... The Oilers are 3-0-0 in the second game of a back-to-back this year.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Matt Benning (concussion) is on IR.

CANADIENS - Jonathan Drouin (wrist) is on IR; Victor Mete (ankle) is on IR; Jesperi Kotkaniemi (concussion) is on IR; Matthew Peca (leg) is on IR; Paul Byron (knee) is on IR; Joel Teasdale (torn ACL, MCL) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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