Canadiens-Oilers Preview

The Associated Press

After a disappointing start, the Edmonton Oilers collected their first two points in thrilling fashion last time out.

They're hoping to have gotten their early-season nerves out of their system.

Edmonton tries to build on its first win Thursday night when it hosts the Montreal Canadiens.

While the Oilers (1-2-0) fell 5-4 to Winnipeg in their season opener and 6-2 at Vancouver on Saturday, they stormed back to beat New Jersey 5-4 in a shootout Monday. Edmonton entered the third period trailing 3-0 before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, captain Andrew Ference, David Perron and Taylor Hall all scored during an eight-minute stretch.

The Oilers had a chance to win in regulation, but Patrik Elias tallied a shorthanded goal with 54 seconds left.

"We just want to win so bad. You see it with teams at the start of the year if you can't get in the win column right away," Ference said. "You can't be out there scared to lose. There is an element of fear in every person that plays sports, but that has to be outweighed by the desire to win.

"You can't be paralyzed with the fear of losing."

Edmonton went 1 for 4 on the power play as coach Dallas Eakins earned his first career win.

"I'm glad we bounced back the way we did," Perron said. "To lose the first three would have been a pretty tough way to start the year. I know everyone was pretty eager to get that first win, and now we can look forward to new things and keep moving."

The Oilers will try to do just that against the Canadiens (1-2-0), who opened a four-game road trip with Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Calgary. P.K. Subban scored his first goal and assisted on Lars Eller's team-leading fourth as Montreal finished strong after falling behind 3-0.

"We weren't ready to play right from the start, including myself," Subban said. "We can continue to say it's the beginning of the season and we're just getting things going, but we've got to come out better than that."

The Canadiens had allowed 40 goals during a 1-6-2 stretch at Rexall Place before a 5-3 win in their last visit March 8, 2012. Max Pacioretty and Subban combined for three goals and three assists in that game.

After Edmonton's Jason LaBarbera made 21 saves Monday, Eakins is going back to the struggling Devan Dubnyk, who has allowed five goals in each of his first two starts. He is 0-2-0 with an ugly 6.53 goals-against average.

"He takes it personally, which is a good thing, but it can also be your nemesis," Eakins told the team's official website. "He's had a couple of goals that he'd like back. He's made some huge saves, too.

"I think he just needs to settle down, understand the process. He's excited to go back in the net tomorrow which is a good thing. He's not shying away from it and we'll see how he is."

Dubnyk is 1-0-1 with a 3.29 GAA against the Canadiens, though he hasn't faced them since 2010.

Montreal's Carey Price is 1-4-1 with a 3.65 GAA against the Oilers, including 0-3-0 with a 4.37 GAA in Edmonton. Price, who made 22 saves Wednesday, has posted a 2.70 GAA while starting each of the Canadiens' first three games.

What to Read Next