Habs look to snap skid, gain revenge vs. Oilers

The Montreal Canadiens carried all the confidence in the world into the Christmas break, only to see the bottom fall out in the games that followed the holiday.

The Canadiens aim to snap a seven-game skid (0-6-1) and avert a season sweep by the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday when the clubs meet in Montreal.

The Canadiens dropped their fourth straight one-goal decision on Tuesday with a 4-3 setback in Detroit, marking their third loss in as many encounters against the team with the fewest points in the NHL.

"It's not a lack of effort," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "Still, we're making bad decisions, and the level of engagement isn't always there. For some players, it's a learning experience. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror for (Tuesday's) loss. It's unacceptable."

Rookie Nick Suzuki scored a power-play goal early in the second period to stake the Canadiens to a 2-0 lead, and his assist on defenseman Victor Mete's tally in the third gave Montreal a 3-2 advantage. Those positive feelings went by the boards after the Red Wings scored for the second and third time in the third period.

"It's real tough. Everyone is not in the best spirits right now. We just have to work our way out of it. It's real disappointing to be having this again," Suzuki said. "We had (a losing streak) earlier in the season. We need to find somewhere deep in ourselves to get out of this."

Suzuki referenced the eight-game losing streak (0-5-3) the Canadiens endured from Nov. 16-Dec. 1 before the team won seven of 10 games.

The 20-year-old Suzuki set up Phillip Danault's power-play goal, and former Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry had a goal and two assists in the Canadiens' 4-3 loss in Edmonton on Dec. 21.

Captain Connor McDavid scored and set up a goal in that contest and had a highlight-reel tally to go along with three assists in the Oilers' 6-4 victory over Toronto on Monday.

"Just tried to make a play, that was it. I'm not going to give up any of my secrets," McDavid said after undressing Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly on his goal midway into the third period.

McDavid has recorded 10 (four goals, six assists) of his NHL-best 69 points in his last seven games, and Leon Draisaitl has nine (four goals, five assists) in that same stretch. Like McDavid, Draisaitl and Josh Archibald each had a goal and an assist in the first meeting with Montreal.

Mikko Koskinen turned aside 23 of 26 shots against the Canadiens but has surrendered 15 goals in his last four outings.

Edmonton, however, sports a 3-0-1 record in its last four contests, including 2-0-1 on its five-game road trip.

"This is a big road trip for us. This is where you see good teams in this league take the next leap," said Alex Chiasson, who collected a goal and an assist on Monday.

Montreal's Carey Price has struggled mightily against Edmonton in his career. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient turned aside 22 shots in last month's encounter to drop to 3-8-1 with a 3.70 goals-against average and .859 save percentage in 12 career starts.

--Field Level Media

Copyright 2020 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Our Latest Stories