Preview: Canadiens at Oilers
The Canadiens continue their four-game trip through Western Canada when they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday as Montreal's eight-game losing streak gets smaller in the rearview mirror. Montreal has won five of its last six games, including the first two contests on the trek, and is 6-2-0 since matching the fourth-longest slide in its storied 110-year history.
The Canadiens are among a large group of teams competing for postseason spots in the Eastern Conference, which is fine with general manager Marc Bergevin. "We are where we expected to be,” Bergevin told reporters. “We had a period that was a little more difficult and now we’re among the platoon of teams competing to get into the playoffs, and that’s where I expect us to be right to the end of the season.” Edmonton has lost six of its last seven games (1-5-1) after a 5-2 setback to Pittsburgh on Friday. The Oilers' Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue to run 1-2 in the NHL points race but McDavid on Friday was kept off the scoresheet for the second straight game and third time in the last four contests while Draisaitl went pointless for the second time in 10 December games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CITY, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific, TVA
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (17-12-6): Shea Weber has two goals and four assists during a five-game point streak and is second on the club with 29 points while a team-best plus-13. Tomas Tatar (30 points) had his four-game goal streak halted in Thursday's 4-3 overtime victory over Calgary while Brendan Gallagher has five of his club-high 15 goals in the last eight games. Carey Price has a career record of 3-7-1 with a 3.66 goals-against average and .860 save percentage against Edmonton.
ABOUT THE OILERS (19-15-4): McDavid (59) and Draisaitl (58) have accounted for an eye-popping 38.6 percent of the club's points with Zack Kassian (25) next on the list after scoring his 13th goal Friday. Edmonton owns the second-best power play in the league but is 0-for-6 in its last two games after going 10-for-30 in the prior eight contests. Mikko Koskinen (12-6-2, 2.62, .919) is expected to play goal after Mike Smith stopped 21 shots against Pittsburgh in suffering his fourth straight loss.
1. Edmonton on Friday became the last team to score a short-handed goal this season.
2. Montreal has allowed a power-play goal in each of its last four games.
3. The clubs split two meetings last season with each winning at home as Draisaitl recorded three goals and five points in the two games.
PREDICTION: Oilers 3, Canadiens 2