Tinkering with their top line paid dividends for the Edmonton Oilers.
Reunited as linemates, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and Connor McDavid added three assists to lead Edmonton past the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 on Tuesday night.
Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell also scored for the Oilers, who snapped a four-game skid that marked their longest of the season.
“Leon probably could have won the scoring race tonight alone had he found a way to finish on some of his opportunities,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan quipped. “Connor, Leon, Drake — a real good night there. They shared the puck well.”
Mikko Koskinen made 27 saves as the Oilers inched back over .500 at 9-8-1.
“It’s big,” Russell said. “We have a few days between games and now the mood’s going to be a lot better.”
Caggiula thought McDavid in particular looked as though he had had more than enough of the losing streak.
“We’ve been on a bit of a skid here and he said, ‘No, I’m going to take the game into my hands today,'” Caggiula said. “There is a few times when you say, ‘Jeez, is he really doing that in an NHL game right now?'”
Max Domi and Andrew Shaw had the goals for the Canadiens (9-6-3), who have lost three of four.
“It was called a no-show on our part,” coach Claude Julien said. “We are a fast-skating team so it wasn’t about speed, but their team looked pretty fast when you give them the room that we did tonight. We didn’t show up. It was a tough night, by far our worst game of the year.”
Edmonton started the scoring on a fluke goal three minutes in as Benning’s point shot was off the mark but came off the boards and hit Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi from behind and caromed in.
Montreal drew even a couple of minutes later just after killing off a penalty when Domi came in with a head of stream and picked the top corner to beat Koskinen for his 10th of the season.
Edmonton regained the advantage with 3½ minutes left in the opening period as McDavid shrugged off a defender and fed the puck to Draisaitl, who scored his 11th goal.
The Canadiens tied it again just more than a minute into the second when Jonathan Drouin passed from behind the net to Shaw, who trickled a shot past Koskinen.
Caggiula fished a puck out of the air and scored for Edmonton two minutes later on a knuckleball of a shot.
Nugent-Hopkins scored on a deceptive wrister 5:36 into the third to make it 4-2.
Edmonton added to the lead on a long shot by Russell with eight minutes left and got its third goal from the blue line with two minutes to go when Nurse scored. That matched the number of goals the Oilers had from defensemen in the entire season coming into the game.
Niemi stopped 37 of Edmonton’s 43 shots.
NOTES: It was the first of two meetings between the teams this season. Edmonton won both matchups last season. … Draisaitl’s goal was his seventh in the last 10 games. … Canadiens captain Shea Weber (knee) skated for the first time Monday, but didn’t take part in contact drills.
Canadiens: At Calgary on Thursday.
Oilers: At Calgary on Saturday.
Source: The Associated Press