The Montreal Canadiens lost their second straight home game, as they failed to show up for the final forty minutes of play, and blew a 2-0 lead to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.
The Canadiens came out playing a great first period and Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring late in the frame on a power play. He accepted a pass from Andrei Markov and beat Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk with a hard, low snap shot.
Just a minute and a half later and youngster Brendan Gallagher stole a pass from the Oilers defender who was trying to clear his own zone, and walked in on Dubnyk and beat him over the shoulder with a precise wrist shot. Montreal would carry the 2-0 lead into the second period, but apparently thought that was enough to win the game.
Ales Hemsky finally got Edmonton on the board with seven minutes left in the second, as he walked in to the middle of the slot in the Canadiens zone, and with all five Habs players around him, he unloaded an uncontested wrister that found its way through Carey Price and into the back of the net.
Two and a half minutes later, Price stopped a Ryan Nugent Hopkins shot, but the rebound went right to an open Ladislav Smid at the side of the net, and his slap shot would find the back of the net to tie the game at 2.
Any Habs fans hoping for a better third period were quickly left disappointed, as a Josh Gorges pinch led to a 2 on 1 that was poorly played by his defense partner Raphael Diaz, and Nugent-Hopkins found Jeff Petry in the slot, who made no mistake burying his chance and giving the Oilers their first lead of the game.
Less than two minutes later, and the Oilers extended their lead to 4-2, on a rebound that was coughed up by Price, and led to a tap in by Ryan Jones. David Perron took the initial shot and it was stopped by Price, who briefly appeared to think he had it in his glove in the chest area, but it was sitting on the ice for an opportune Jones to poke in the eventual game winner.
The Canadiens pulled within one with just two seconds remaining, as Brian Gionta banged in a nice pass from Tomas Plekanec, while applying pressure with the goaltender out for an extra attacker. It made the score a respectable 4-3, but the game was over before this one went in.
Lars Eller made a comment before the game that the Oilers play almost like a Junior team at times. I believe what he meant was the way they are free wheeling is not typical of an NHL team these days, but the Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins used it as bulletin board material, and thanked Eller for his comments after the game. A bit of a bush league move by the young coach to take Eller’s words out of context and then use them against him in public like that, especially when his team is once again at the bottom of the NHL standings. But, I guess when you coach the Edmonton Oilers, you take any victory you can and rub it in your opponent’s noses.
The Canadiens played a great first 20 minutes, but blowing a two goal lead to a team like the Edmonton Oilers is a major concern. The Oilers have proven over the past several seasons to be one of the worst teams in the league, and any time you give up a two goal lead on home ice to a bottom feeder, you need a big response immediately.
That chance will come Thursday night, when the Canadiens continue their five game home stand against the Anaheim Ducks, in what will likely be Saku Koivu’s final game in Montreal.