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Canadiens steam past slumping Oilers

The SportsXchange

EDMONTON, Alberta -- One team was tired, the other team was tired of losing.

The Montreal Canadiens, playing their second game in as many nights, scored four consecutive goals Thursday night to post a 4-1 victory over the slumping Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton opened the scoring in the second period before Montreal went ahead 2-1 before the second intermission and then padded its lead in the third period.

"It's tough to win in road buildings in this league, so when you go up in a game, you have to take advantage of it," Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher said. "Going into the third, we just wanted to hold onto the lead. We know the style that the Oilers like to play. There was a lot of transition game, so you knew that if you turned the puck over that they could make you pay. The tempo was pretty high tonight."

The Canadiens fell behind 1-0 on Ryan Smyth's first goal of the season at 2:28 of the first, but Montreal (2-2-0) took charge the rest of the way.

"We definitely wanted to come out with two points there, and I know we all feel like we could have," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "It was a tough game. They played hard and so did we. I thought we played a pretty good game, but we didn't make the most of our opportunities."

It was another in a string of games in which the Oilers played well, just not well enough to win. They fell to 1-3-0.

"I didn't think we played an excellent game, but I thought we played a good game," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "The most solid game that we played so far. Improvement is nice, but it's not good enough yet. It's not good enough if you end up losing the game."

After losing 3-2 to the Flames in Calgary on Wednesday, the Canadiens went stride for stride with an Edmonton team playing on two days' rest.

"I thought it was a great team effort tonight," Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We stuck to the game plan and we didn't get frustrated when they got a goal early on. We battled back, and we did it for each other.

"It feels great to get our first win on this road trip. We have two more really important games and an opportunity to build some momentum coming out of this road trip."

The Habs were put to the test early, having to kill a couple of early penalties -- Rene Bourque at the 26=second mark and Alex Galchenyuk at 2:41. Montreal answered with a pair of very good kills, limiting Edmonton to two shots.

Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk, who struggled in his first two starts and brought a 6.53 goals-against average and an .831 save percentage into the game, had a strong first period, stopping all 12 Montreal shots.

Edmonton had another early power play to start the second period and this time made good on it, with a falling Smyth getting some wood on a Taylor Hall centering pass.

Montreal tied it up with a power-play goal of its own, Gallagher's one-timer from the back door at 9:24.

Just three minutes later, the Smyth, Boyd Gordon and Nail Yakupov line got caught chasing their tails against Montreal's fourth line, leading to a Brandon Prust tap-in at 12:05.

"It was a really important period," said Galchenyuk, who assisted the first Montreal goal. "We were more sharp, more aggressive and we scored two goals."

It was still anybody's game until Galchenyuk's goal at 12:15 of the third period, a 2-on-1 with Gallagher, gave Montreal a 3-1 lead.

In a late act of desperation, Eakins pulled his goalie with 4:18 to play in the third period, resulting in Max Pacioretty's empty-netter in the final moments.

NOTES: Thursday's game marked the first time that Yakupov and former junior teammate Galchenyuk, who went first and third overall in the 2012 draft, faced each other in the NHL. ... The Canadiens were 6-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs last season. ... Edmonton leaves Friday morning for a six-game, 13-day road trip that begins in Toronto. ... Smyth returned to the lineup after spending the previous game in the press box. ... Pacioretty was back in action after missing Wednesday's game in Calgary with an arm injury. ... Montreal tough guy George Parros, who had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after smacking his chin on the ice during a fight last week, is free of concussion symptoms.
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