McDavid’s 3-point night propels Oilers past Canadiens

Connor McDavid scored the winner late in the third period as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in a physical affair Monday.

Jesse Puljujarvi, with a goal and an assist, Ethan Bear and Devin Shore also scored for Edmonton (27-15-2), while Mike Smith made 22 saves. McDavid also had two assists for a three-point night for the Oilers, who trailed 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation.

Eric Staal replied for Montreal (19-15-9), which got 25 saves from Jake Allen after he replaced Carey Price to start the second period. Price, who stopped seven shots in the opening 20 minutes, didn’t come out after the intermission.

The Oilers stretched their home winning streak to eight games, and improved to 2-3-1 against Montreal in 2021.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, fell to 2-6-0 over their last eight games without injured winger Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb).

The Oilers moved to within one point of the Winnipeg Jets for second place in the North Division with a game in hand.

Coming off Saturday’s 4-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens opened a five-game road trip that will see them back at Rogers Place on Wednesday before three crucial outings in Calgary against the Flames, who are chasing Montreal for the division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

Edmonton tied the game 1-1 at 10:49 of the third on a Bear one-timer off a McDavid feed after some great pressure in the offensive zone for his first goal of the season.

Denied of his 24th goal of the campaign in the first on a sequence that was overturned after replay, McDavid pushed his team ahead with 4:49 left in the third when he collected the puck at Edmonton’s blue-line, split Montreal’s defence and fired shortside on Allen.

Puljujarvi made it 3-1 with 2:23 left on a breakaway before Shore iced it into an empty net.

Montreal opened the scoring at 6:46 of the second when Corey Perry threw a pass in front that hit Staal’s right skate and past Smith for his fifth, and second since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in late March.

The 36-year-old’s only other goal with Montreal came in overtime against Edmonton in his Canadiens debut April 5.

Edmonton’s best chance of the period came right after an Oilers penalty kill, but McDavid saw the puck roll off his stick on a 2-on-0 with Puljujarvi off a terrific long-distance aerial feed from Smith.

The home side went to the man advantage in the dying seconds of the period, but Allen held the fort, including just getting enough of a Bear shot that just trickled wide.

Montreal survived another Oilers man advantage to start the third before Chiasson chipped a shot over the net from in tight after Allen made the initial save.

The Canadiens backup then stood his ground on a diving Josh Archibald chance before Bear equalized with his first goal in 49 games.

Both teams came out hitting in a spirited first period, including Montreal defenceman Alexander Romanov sending a woozy Jujhar Khaira to the Edmonton locker-room following a huge mid-ice collision.

The Oilers appeared to take the lead at 12:01 when McDavid snapped what would have been his first goal against the Canadiens in 2021, but Montreal correctly challenged for goaltender interference on Price.

Smith stopped Staal on a 2-on-1 rush with the blocker before Montreal’s power play — 2 for 31 over its last nine games coming into Monday — got a chance later in the period, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi fired over Smith’s goal with the netminder at his mercy.

Edmonton then got a man advantage of its own after Phillip Danault took a healthy run at McDavid, with Draisaitl forcing a good save out of Price, who entered 3-0-0 with .960 save percentage against the Oilers this season, to keep things level through 20 minutes before Allen joined the fray to start the second.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo recaps Week 13 in NHL North Division:

In our weekly segment, Rob Pizzo catches you up on the week that was in the all-Canadian division in the NHL. 3:56

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