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EDMONTON OILERS (32-27-6) at
MONTREAL CANADIENS (35-24-7)
Start Time: 5:38 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Canadiens Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINE-UP UPDATES: At this morning's skate in Montreal, Robert Nilsson skated on the second line with Sam Gagner and Marc Pouliot... Dustin Penner, Steve MacIntyre, and Jean-Francois Jacques are expected to sit this one out.
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
The last time Edmonton faced Montreal, a 7-2 drubbing of the visiting Canadiens became the first of a sorely needed three-game winning streak.
Now, the Oilers (32-27-6) will try to build on their 4-1 win versus Toronto on Saturday night as they face the Canadiens (35-24-7) at the Bell Centre, a building that the Copper and Blue aren’t too familiar with.
Edmonton is 10-16-4-1 all-time in Montreal and 1-2-1 in their last four games (going back to 2000-01) against their little-seen Canadien competitors. The Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout the last time they visited Montreal on Nov. 7, 2006.
But unfamiliarity doesn’t translate to timidity, especially when every two points gained or lost could mean making the playoffs or hitting the early-season greens.
As it stands before tonight’s game, the Oilers are tied with Nashville and Dallas at 70 points but hold the seventh spot in the division because one less game played. Edmonton trails Columbus by two points and fifth place Vancouver by six points.
The Canadiens have gone 5-2 in their last seven games and got back in the win column Sunday against Dallas after losing two straight but the win wasn’t enough for Guy Carbonneau to keep his job. The former Canadiens head coach was fired by GM Bob Gainey who will take over behind the bench.
Carbonneau was 124-83-23 during his three-year tenure in Montreal and finished first in the Eastern Conference last season with 104 points.
Tonight’s game is the last of a four-game Eastern road trip on which the Oilers have gone 1-1-1 on thus far.
Edmonton will be back at Rexall Place on Thursday to kick off a three-game homestand versus the Atlanta Thrashers.
Just The Facts...
Off-day comments from Patrick O'Sullivan
Ethan Moreau Injury Update and interview with Dan Tencer
Playoff Race Update: Oilers tied for 7th - The race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference is heating up. To follow along with Edmonton's chances to get into the post-season, follow the link as we examine each team currently in the race. ...more
The Other Side
Man on a Mission - With the regular season winding down and the playoffs right around the corner, Bob Gainey knows that now is the time for his Habs to make their charge. ...more The Habs this Week - A stretch of nine of the team’s next 10 games at home kicks off with the return of a familiar face…and shot, a team looking to spoil some parties and a guy whose absence likely hasn’t made the Canadiens’ hearts grow any fonder. ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
Ask Patrick O'Sullivan a question! - This is your opportunity to pose a question to one of the newest Edmonton Oilers, Patrick O'Sullivan. He'll be our guest on Ask an Oiler this week so get your questions in early! ...more 5 Questions with Jason Strudwick - If you're feeling generous and are wondering which kind of hot beverage, potato side dish, or sporting event tickets to purchase Jason Strudwick, look no further! . . . Well, look a little bit further by following the link. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Montreal Canadiens have won five of their last seven games and are in playoff position in the competitive Eastern Conference. That still wasn't enough to prevent Guy Carbonneau from losing his job.
With one month left in the regular season, general manager Bob Gainey returns as Canadiens coach Tuesday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
In a season where hockey's most storied franchise celebrates its 100th anniversary, Gainey set off more fireworks by firing Carbonneau - a former Canadiens' captain and assistant coach - with 16 games remaining.
Montreal (35-24-7) was one of the East's top teams after winning 27 of its first 44 games. Since, the Canadiens are 8-13-1 and fifth in the East, where four points separate fifth from 10th place.
"The last eight weeks of performance have been below average, and I believe a change in the direction at ice level is necessary," said Gainey of the Canadiens, who are 6-4-1 since losing 7-2 at Edmonton on Feb. 11.
Carbonneau was 124-83-23 since taking over the Canadiens on May 5, 2006. He guided the club to first place in the East with 104 points last season, but the Canadiens lost to Philadelphia in the second round of the playoffs.
Gainey, a Hall of Fame forward for the Canadiens, begins his second stint coaching his former team. He went 23-15-3 after replacing Claude Julien in January 2006.
"I'm not going to make black-and-white changes," Gainey said, "but we need to move toward being a better, stronger, more consistent team defensively and an offensive team that takes advantage of our opportunities."
Montreal won 3-1 at Dallas on Sunday to avoid a third consecutive loss.
Carey Price made 30 saves to snap a seven-game losing streak and Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexei Kovalev scored for the Canadiens, who were outscored 7-1 in their previous two games - losses at Buffalo and Atlanta.
"We think this win should give us a lot of confidence," Carbonneau said after coaching his final game.
Even with Monday's coaching change, that can still hold true for Montreal, which must improve its power-play. The Canadiens are 0-for-13 with the man-advantage in their last three games.
Facing Edmonton (32-27-6), though, could help Montreal improve in that area, but it must fare better than the last time the teams met.
While the Oilers are near the bottom of the league by allowing opponents to convert on 23.4 percent of their power-play chances, the Canadiens went 0-for-7 with the extra man against the Oilers.
Kostitsyn scored his team-leading 23rd goal Sunday for his first points in seven games.
Price, who is 19-14-6 with a 2.75 goals-against average, set a career high for goals allowed in his only previous game against Edmonton last month.
Mathieu Dandenault had a goal and an assist in that contest versus the Oilers.
Edmonton is seventh in West - tied with Nashville and Dallas with 70 points - and coming off a 4-1 win at Toronto on Saturday to snap a four-game road losing streak. Kyle Brodziak had two goals, Ales Hemsky added a goal with an assist and Dwayne Roloson made 39 saves as the Oilers improved to 1-1-1 on their four-game trip.
Hemsky, who set a career with 21 goals, had one with an assist against Montreal in February. Brodziak also added a goal and an assist in that game.
Roloson, who has started 21 straight games, made 36 saves last month against the Canadiens to improve to 3-2-1 with a tie and a 2.48 GAA versus Montreal.
"He's really on top of his game," Oilers defenseman Steve Staios said of Roloson, who is 23-17-6 with a 2.75 GAA.
|Mar 10 '09||EDM 3 at MTL 4 - OT||S. Koivu|
|Feb 11 '09||MTL 2 at EDM 7||A. Cogliano|