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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Canadiens

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

After ending his personal 14-game losing streak two nights ago against the Dallas Stars, Nikolai Khabibulin returned to the crease tonight looking for his second consecutive victory. The Oilers netminder stood tall, turning aside 36 of the 37 Montreal attempts he faced. Ales Hemsky scored twice, while Jordan Eberle and Ryan Jones added early third period tallies to provide the offensive catalyst in an entertaining 4-1 victory over the Canadiens.

With the triumph, Edmonton has now won two consecutive home games; a feat not achieved since the first two games of the season when the Oilers skated away on the winning side of 4-0 and 3-2 scores against the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers respectively.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

Although Jordan Eberle's early third period goal served as the game-winner, the result was still very much up for grabs at that point in time. Only 15 seconds after Eberle put the Oilers ahead, Ryan Jones extended the lead with a snapshot that beat Canadiens netminder Carey Price five-hole. With the marker, Rexall Place went crazy as the Oilers added an insurance marker early in the final frame. On a night where the Oilers' fourth line played well over nine minutes each, the offensive production was a welcome addition for an Oilers club looking to extend its winning ways.

45 The Oilers were victorious on 45% of the draws tonight. Captain Shawn Horcoff posted the best result, with an 11-9, 55% outing in the dot.
12 While the Canadiens concluded the evening with a decisive shot edge, it was the Oilers who managed the puck better. In total, the Oilers only made 12 giveaways, whereas the Canadiens accumulated 17.
2 For just the second time this season, the Oilers have won two consecutive games at Rexall Place.
23 With the win tonight, the Oilers have now defeated the Canadiens 23 times on home ice. In total, Edmonton sports a 23-17-0 all-time record against Montreal at Rexall Place.

Nikolai Khabibulin
37 36 1 60:00 .973

Ryan Jones
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 +1 2

Jordan Eberle
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 +1 5

Carey Price
27 24 3 59:24 .889

Nikolai Khabibulin
37 36 1 60:0036 .973

PK Subban - D

29:29 - 0P, -3 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

25:30 - 0P, +1 rating

The Oilers and Canadiens entered the third period deadlocked at one. Although the Canadiens came out with some early chances, it was the Oilers who capitalized as a response. Taylor Hall collected the puck inside the offensive blueline, where he cut to the slot and fed a streaking Jordan Eberle. With some free real estate to operate with, Eberle made a move down near the goal line before flipping a shot over the shoulder of Price to put the Oilers ahead 2-1 at 3:58. When it appeared that such a play was no longer possible, a pair of Edmonton rookies still managed to find a way.

For the second consecutive night, Nikolai Khabibulin provided stellar play between the pipes to help the Oilers emerge victorious. In total, Khabibulin registered an astounding 36 saves on the 37 shots he faced, including 16 in the second period when the Canadiens began to press for the go-ahead goal. Khabibulin's efforts also earned him the game's first star honours. On a night where timely goal scoring certainly contributed to the win, it wouldn't have been possible without superb goaltending.

Ryan Jones' third period goal put the Oilers ahead by a pair, and his play throughout the evening was outstanding. But in the interest of fairness, the entire fourth line played a fantastic game. In addition to Jones, Liam Reddox and J-F Jacques stepped up to provide an energetic and physical style that wore on the Canadiens all night. In total, the fourth line accumulated a combined seven hits to help lead the physical charge and showcase the required hard-nosed effort on the forecheck.

Naturally, with the fourth line contributing as much as they did, J-F Jacques was a physical force. On the night, Jacques recorded a total of five hits. None, however, were more impactful than a second period crunch on Canadiens forward Lars Eller. After dumping the puck into the Oilers zone at centre ice, Eller was directed toward the side-boards by an incoming Jacques. Number 22 laid his shoulder into Eller, sending him violently into the boards and creating cascading ripple through the glass.

In order to defeat the playoff-bound Montreal Canadiens, a 23-man committment was required. Tonight, the Oilers did just that in displaying an incredible willingness to lay the body, create turnovers and, most importantly, block shots. The Canadiens registered a total of 37 shots tonight, while an additional 21 were attempted but blocked by Edmonton defenders. Leading the way in this category was rearguard Theo Peckham, who single-handidly turned aside four Montreal attempts.

"It was a duplicate of his game prior to tonight. [Khabibulin] was outstanding. I thought we had a better full first period than our previous game. I thought we came out and played pretty good against Montreal to start with."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on Nikolai Khabibulin & the win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Saturday, February 19 vs. Atlanta
  1:30pm MST (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

For the second time in a week, the Oilers will participate in a Saturday afternoon matinee; this time facing off against the Atlanta Thrashers. Game-time is 1:30pm MST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet West.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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