Nick Suzuki continues hot play, leads Montreal Canadiens over Edmonton Oilers

Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists and Brendan Gallagher and Cole Caufield picked up a goal and an assist each as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2.

One may have been hard pressed to guess which team was still fighting for a playoff spot and which was long out of the picture on Saturday night in Edmonton.

Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists as the Montreal Canadiens remained hot of late, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2.

Brendan Gallagher and Cole Caufield each had a goal and an assist. Artturi Lehkonen and Mike Hoffman also scored for the Canadiens (15-34-7), who have won seven of their last eight games despite still sitting near the bottom of the NHL standings.

“I think our system right now is allowing us to play way better and we’re kind of dictating the game right now,” said Montreal defenceman Brett Kulak. “Guys are jumping up in the play and there is no hesitation in our game anywhere. We’re executing really well.”

Chris Wideman chipped in two assists and goalie Sam Montembeault made 28 saves to give interim head coach Martin St. Louis a 7-4 record.

“We feel pretty confident the way we’re playing, we’re just having fun, we’re playing a certain style that we all enjoy,” Gallagher said. “He (St. Louis) seems to be bringing the best out of a lot of us and we’re just having fun playing the game right now, it’s good to see in our group.”

Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod replied for the Oilers (30-22-4), who have dropped two straight while in the middle of a heated playoff race. Mike Smith stopped 24 shots.

“It wasn’t our best effort, not the best I’ve seen in my three weeks here,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, who sports a 7-4-1 record since replacing Dave Tippett. “We can do better. We can execute at a higher rate than we did tonight.

“We didn’t have the game we wanted to. I’m not going to dress it up and put a bow on it. We weren’t good enough in a lot of areas. That said, it was 3-2 going into the third period and we had a chance to fight our way back in. We didn’t do it.”

Montreal started the scoring 11 minutes in when Caufield capitalized on an odd-man rush, sending a wrist shot past Smith for his eighth of the season. It was the 37th time in the last 47 games that Edmonton has allowed the game’s first goal.

However, the Oilers erased that lead just 22 seconds later as Leon Draisaitl made a great feed to Kane in front and he spun around and beat Montembeault for his eighth goal in 17 games since signing with Edmonton, and third in his last two games.

Montreal surged back ahead with 39 seconds left in the opening period as Gallagher ended an 18-game goalless drought by scoring on a power play rebound opportunity.

Edmonton knotted the game back up five minutes into the middle frame as McLeod tucked in a rebound from a tough angle. The goal survived a review as Montreal argued that Zach Hyman had interfered with Montembeault on the play.

The Habs then had a goal of their own by Suzuki called back due to an offside call, but then Suzuki scored again on the same power play, his 13th, to make it 3-2.

Montreal had what would have been a short-handed goal by Laurent Dauphin called back with seven minutes left in the second period on yet another offside call.

The Canadiens extended their lead with a short-handed goal midway through the third as Kulak turned Smith inside out before getting it in front to Lehkonen to deposit into a wide-open net.

Hoffman scored an empty-net goal for Montreal with less than four minutes left.

The Oilers are back in action on Monday for a short one-game trip to Calgary, while the Canadiens are off until Wednesday, when they are in Vancouver to face the Canucks.

Notes: It was the second and final meeting between the two teams, with the Oilers beating the Canadiens on Jan. 29 in Montreal. ... Habs forward Mathieu Perreault played in his 700th career NHL game. ... Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard suffered an injury in the second period and did not return.

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