The Oilers stay home to host the Calgary Flames on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT. You can watch on CBC and TVAS or listen live on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – Montreal built a three-goal lead in the first period, but the Oilers came storming back and a two-goal performance from the freshly recalled Leon Draisaitl lifted the home team to a thrilling 4-3 victory.
“Let’s face it. I could be standing here trying to explain a real ugly game, but the good thing is we stuck with it,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “It goes back to that theme of holding your hand a little bit longer, trying to be proud players and, obviously, nobody was happy with our first period or the start. But we stuck with it. We held a very good club to very few opportunities and chances in the last two periods. We checked our way to a win. It’s something we can be proud of. It’s something we can build off of.”
Montreal flexed their offensive muscles, potting three goals in the opening frame to take a big lead into the first intermission.
At 9:27 of the first, Montreal made it 1-0 on the power play. P.K. Subban sent the puck toward the net and Brendan Gallagher deftly tipped it in. Andrei Markov recorded the second assist.
There was a sequence with roughly five minutes to go in the first where both sides nearly scored. Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot came way out of his net to defend a rush and got caught, but the puck was batted away in front by the defence. The Oilers came the other way on a rush but Carey Price made the save on his end.
Torrey Mitchell scored his fifth goal of the season to give Montreal a 2-0 lead at 16:56 of the first, sniping a shot past Talbot. Devante Smith-Pelly earned an assist on the score.
Markov tossed the puck out in front and Alex Galchenyuk slapped a point-blank one-timer past Talbot to give Montreal a 3-0 lead at 17:51 of the opening frame. Brian Flynn recorded the other helper.
The second period was when things started to turn.
“We just reminded ourselves and each other that we had 40 minutes left,” said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “We have the group in here that’s able to come back with that much time and score three or four goals and we showed that tonight. It’s a great character win for us against a good team.”
Midway through the second, Nail Yakupov rifled a one-timer on Price, but the Canadiens netminder stopped that Oilers chance to get back in the game.
With 3:56 left in the second, Connor McDavid was stopped by Price on a partial shorthanded breakaway with Subban trailing close behind.
The Oilers got a late second period power play goal to make it a 3-1 game. At 19:08 of the middle frame, Draisaitl scored his first goal of the season from behind the net. The goal was reviewed and upheld by the officials. Draisaitl was playing in his first game of the season after being recalled from the Bakersfield Condors before morning skate.
Subban saved a goal early in the third for Montreal. With the Oilers on a power play, Benoit Pouliot had a midair redirection behind Price, but Subban stopped it at the line.
“I still can’t believe that,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I think we all celebrated a goal there. It’s good that we stuck with it. We didn’t get down on ourselves after another close call and it’s just great to see how much pushback we have right now. You can get frustrated. We had lost a couple in a row. We get down 3-0 and maybe in the past we’d pack it in a little bit, but tonight we didn’t do that at all. If anything, we played as hard as we’ve played all season. It’s a big character win and we’ve got to take some momentum out of this.”
That missed opportunity could have been a turning point for the worse, but instead the Oilers grabbed the momentum.
Brandon Davidson brought the Oilers to within one at 6:15 of the third. Darnell Nurse passed it to Davidson who had space. The defenceman stepped up and launched a slap shot short side of Price with Yakupov screening in front.
The goal was Davidson’s first at Rexall Place and it helped fuel the surging Oilers.
“It’s a special one for sure,” said Davidson. “I will remember that for the rest of my life. Hopefully I will have many more so that one doesn’t stick around too long, but that one was special to me and it got our team kind of rolling.
McDavid recorded the second assist on Davidson’s goal to extend his point streak to seven games.
Pouliot got the goal he was robbed of back at 10:43 of the third. McDavid made a play along the wall to spring Pouliot free on a breakaway. The Oilers winger buried to make it a 3-3 game.
Draisaitl capped a remarkable comeback with his second goal of the night at 18:58 of the final frame. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set up the 20-year-old forward with a centring pass to the slot. Draisaitl gathered and fired a shot past Price to make it 4-3. Taylor Hall recorded the second assist.
The Oilers would not be denied the win, closing the door on any Montreal chance late and skating to the impressive comeback victory.
“I’ve been asked a lot of questions about moral victories and how long it takes to get a win,” said McLellan. “We got our win and with the way we won it, it should be something we can build off now or we will take our foot off the gas and be happy and we’re going to have to start over. We’re a young team, we’re going to figure that out and take the test on Saturday.”
The Oilers host the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.