Oilers squander third-period lead, learn lesson in OT win over Canadiens

The Edmonton Oilers started out hot with a quick goal from Connor McDavid but let the Montreal Canadiens tie it in the third. Although with the Oilers on the powerplay in overtime Leon Draisaitl ended it final score 3-2 (OT).

EDMONTON — Leon Draisaitl has been around these parts long enough to know the history.

“In the past we’ve found ways to lose those games,” he said after a of a bit of a letdown game against the Montreal Canadiens.

It was a ho-hum Tuesday nighter against the NHL’s 26th best club, just a few days after having jousted with the mighty Colorado Avalanche on Hockey Night in Canada. And the Oilers’ lack of urgency was exploited in full by a Canadiens team that outworked them for most of the final 40 minutes of a 3-2 Oilers overtime win.

Montreal entered the third period trailing 2-0, and forced overtime at 2-2. It was the second straight night that Edmonton had squandered a third-period lead, having been five minutes away from a 2-1 victory over the Avs before eventually losing 3-2 in overtime.

Any concern over back-to-back blown leads, Mattias Ekholm?

“I thought the Colorado game, we fought back too,” he said of a third period that began with Colorado holding a 1-0 lead. “In my opinion those third periods are very far from each other. We were dialled in on Saturday night against a big opponent, and I thought today maybe it was one of those nights where the third was a little casual so to speak.”

This is the luxury that Edmonton has, having not so long ago lived the life the Canadiens are living these days.

Today, the Oilers have enough good players — and have established enough muscle memory when it comes to winning — that they can find a way to learn their lessons while still collecting two points. The Montreals, the Chicagos, the Anaheims, the Ottawas, their lessons tend to come with one point or less.

“In the past, we’ve found ways to lose those games,” Draisaitl recalled. “We would kind of let the frustration sink in a little bit. We’ll take the two points, but obviously there is lots to do better.

“They’re a team that has nothing to lose and lots of skill. We would have liked to have handled that third period better, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. We’ll take it.”

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The poor Canadiens; they killed a power play levied with just 2:43 to play, but before the buzzer went for overtime, Joel Armia got caught up with Evander Kane. His stick inadvertently massaged the nose of Adam Henrique, resulting in a four-minute double-minor penalty that stretched well into OT.

The Oilers’ power play, 0-for-3 at that point, was unlikely to go 0-for-5. Alas, a Draisaitl one-timer delivered both the points for Edmonton, marking the second time this season it has taken OT for Edmonton to vanquish the pesky Canadiens.

“I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately,” began Habs defenceman Kaiden Guhle. “We’re playing so well and we can’t seem to find two points. Playing against basically every top team in the league and we’re playing them hard. That was another game where … we deserved a better fate again.”

Guhle, a local kid who played for the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings in this rink, flew down the left side and wired a shot past Calvin Pickard for the Habs’ second goal. You could hear his cheering section in the Rogers Place seats; a nice moment for a very good young defenceman.

“It felt good, scoring in this building, obviously with all the Habs fans here too,” he said. “I felt like it was a home goal, definitely up there for one of my favourites of my career. But it would have been better to get two points.”

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As has become customary, Pickard was exceptional in Edmonton’s net, stopping 23 shots. And Henrique scored his first as an Oiler.

It’s been a bit of a fact-finding mission for Henrique and Sam Carrick — who had a fantastic tussle with Mike Pezzetta to open the evening — since coming from Anaheim at the trade deadline.

“At the deadline, good teams add people and bottom teams lose guys. And in a team there’s roles throughout the entire lineup. Coming to a new team, you want to be able to adjust quick and try to settle in somewhere in the lineup,” Henrique said, a large bump on his nose courtesy of Armia’s stick.

“Sometimes minutes are less — there’s no power play or you’re on the penalty kill, on the third or fourth line — but it makes the team deeper. It makes the team more challenging as a whole and that’s certainly something we’re (he and Carrick) willing to sacrifice a bit to make this team better and make a big run.”

How’s his nose?


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