Tomas Kaberle and Lars Eller scored 2:07 apart early in the third period, pushing Montreal to a daunting two-goal advantage. Taylor Hall brought his club back in it, but an empty-net tally by Max Pacioretty capped a three-point night and a 5-3 Canadiens win at Rexall Place.
Reunited on the Oilers' top line, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle got the game's best chances, six minutes in, when the trio connected on a pair in-tight opportunities. Canadiens netminder Peter Budaj stopped them both, however, keeping the contest scoreless as the period's 10-minute mark approached.
With 9:30 to play, Budaj's counterpart came up huge to do the same. Rene Bourque burst down the wing and ripped a slapper on goal, which Khabibulin promptly blocked with his glove; he couldn't catch it, though, allowing the rebound to sit in the slot. Tomas Plekanec raced in and attempted to tuck home the rebound, but it too was stopped en route.
At 10:50, PK Subban was assessed a roughing minor, putting the Oilers' top-ranked power-play to work. Keeping it at the league's No. 1 spot proved to be no trouble at all, as the home side cashed 1:16 into the advantage. Off the half wall, Nugent-Hopkins dished to Corey Potter at the line who blasted a one-timer; Shawn Horcoff, patrolling the slot area, redirected it past Budaj to put the Oilers up 1-0.
Moments later and with Nick Schultz trapped deep -- and with Nugent-Hopkins unable to hold the line -- the Habs raced in on another promising rush, similar to the Bourque/Plekanec connection earlier on. After making the initial save once more, the puck sat alone in the slot where Chris Campoli pinched in for the chance. His shot whistled high and wide, however, preserving the Oilers' 1-0 lead.
Campoli was able to get on the scoresheet moments later, mind you -- but it came in the form of a penalty when he tripped Ales Hemsky at 16:10. Despite adding another shot to their total, the Oilers were unable to convert and extend the lead.
Theo Peckham was charged with interference with only 22 seconds remaining in the period. Six seconds later, the game was tied. Subban, making amends for his earlier infraction that resulted in an Oilers goal, launched a one-timer past Khabibulin's blocker on his team's 10th shot.
Just 2:02 into the period, Scott Gomez raced in and pulled a clever wraparound move that was initially stopped, but the rebound sat at the crease's lip. Montreal's leading scorer, Max Pacioretty, was quick to pounce, bouncing the puck past Khabibulin to put the Canadiens up by one.
Seconds later, Schultz was charged with slashing, putting the Canadiens back on the power-play. Fortunately for the home side, it was killed with ease.
The Oilers stopped the bleeding in a hurry. Making an impression upon his recall, Linus Omark stepped into the slot and wristed a shot through Budaj, notching his first goal of the season and first since Apr. 2, 2011 vs. Vancouver.
A tripping minor to ex-Oiler Erik Cole -- when he slewfooted Jeff Petry in the neutral zone -- put the Oilers' 1-for-2 power-play to work at 11:48. Following a successful kill, Montreal went on the attack. With 4:02 to play, it appeared as though the Canadiens had taken the lead once more, but as Bourque hacked and whacked at a loose puck on the goal line, the biscuit didn't completely get across.
The call on the ice was a goal, but upon video review, conclusive evidence backed the Oilers' claim as the decision was reversed.
Providing the visitors with a chance for revenge, Peckham picked up his second minor of the night when he was charged with slashing at 16:33. Strong board play and heads-up dumps secured the kill for the home side, pushing the 2-2 deadlock into the third period.
After two periods, the Canadiens held a slim 18-17 advantage in shots.
Peckham completed the 'hat trick' early in the third when he was assessed a hooking minor at 2:20. And, just like it cost them in the opening period, the Canadiens capitalized once again. With a rebound pinballing to the side, out of an outstretched Khabibulin's reach, Tomas Kaberle snapped the puck into the open cage from a sharp angle only 40 seconds into the advantage.
Within seconds, the lead became a pair. With the puck seemingly out of danger behind the goal line, Lars Eller centered the puck, bouncing it in off No. 35's out-of-position pad as he slowly reacted to the opportunity.
Eller hooked Schultz at 9:47, prompting a penalty to be called and for the Oilers' power-play units to hit the ice once more. Montreal got the best chances, however, as the home side's sputtering attack failed to generate anything of consequence.
But with only 6:48 to play, the Oilers got back in it. From the point, Schultz spotted Hall alone at the near circle, placing a pass that only he could retrieve. No. 4 did, taking a backward stride into the slot and rifling a wrist shot past a screened Budaj, glove side at 13:12.
Khabibulin was pulled for an extra-attacker with just over a minute to play, but Pacioretty iced the outcome with an empty net tally with only 17 seconds to play.
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