EDMONTON – After taking black eyes at home several times this season, the Edmonton Oilers emphatically administered a beating to a struggling road team.
The Oilers emphatically extended Montreal’s losing streak on the road to seven games, pounding the Canadiens 7-2 Wednesday. Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak each had a goal and an assist and Sam Gagner, Zack Stortini and Liam Reddox also scored for the Oilers (27-23-4).
Edmonton snapped a two-game skid and moved into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with Vancouver.
After 10-2 and 9-2 losses to Buffalo and Chicago at home, the Oilers enjoyed being on the other side of a drubbing.
“We’ve had our fair share of tough losses in this building so it was nice to see one go the other way,” Brodziak said.
Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray, playing his first game against his old team, said gutting out a win with gritty play should teach this team a lesson.
“It was a big game for us confidence-wise,” he said. “We didn’t play the prettiest of games but we worked hard and got pucks to the net. We did things that we said we wanted to do.”
Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish admitted that Montreal goaltender Carey Price wasn’t at the top of his game.
“We scored goals tonight that we haven’t seen go in for a while,” he said. “Carey struggled. He’s a heck of a goalie but he struggled tonight. A few of those might have been stopped on another night.”
Mathieu Dandenault and Francis Boullion scored in response for the Habs (29-20-6) who have lost nine of their last 11 games and have now fallen to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“You can talk for days and months and weeks, but it’s what you do on the ice that counts,” said Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau. “We can talk about bad bounces and breaks, like the fifth one, but it seems to happen a lot in the past month, and we’re going to have to work on that.
“Obviously, I’m really disappointed by some of the efforts that we’ve had.”
Montreal captain Saku Koivu said he wishes he had the answers for what is plaguing his team at the moment.
“It’s been going on for a while, and for the last three games, the way we’ve done it, it’s not fun to be a part of,” he said. “I don’t have a solution right now, but it’s not just going to take one or two guys.”
Edmonton scored four times in the first period, with the first coming five minutes in on the power play. Price was able to stop two shots in a mad goalmouth scramble before Gagner stuffed in his sixth of the season.
The Oilers grabbed a three-goal lead with markers just over a minute apart. Tom Gilbert sent a hopeful shot on net that was tipped over Price by Stortini. The Oilers followed that up with a weird one as Ethan Moreau rang a shot off Price’s mask, and the dazed-looking goalie inadvertently swept the puck in front where Cogliano had an easy tap-in.
Edmonton then went ahead 4-0 with just 26 seconds to play on another power-play marker as a Shawn Horcoff rebound went to Hemsky who slipped in his team-leading 17th of the season.
Montreal finally got on the board 10 seconds later when after a mix-up behind the Oilers net, the puck came out to Dandenault and he scored his first of the season with Edmonton starter Dwayne Roloson out of position.
The Oilers went ahead 5-1 midway through the second as an attempt to clear the puck ended up hitting linesman Vaughan Rody and springing Brodziak for a short-handed breakaway goal.
Edmonton took a five-goal lead late in the second period as Price allowed a big rebound on a shot tipped by one of his own defenders in front and Penner was there to chip in the rebound.
The goals kept coming as Edmonton went head 7-1 six minutes into the third as Reddox received some rare power-play time. He made the most of it, tipping a Gilbert shot out of mid-air and past Price, who remained in the Montreal net throughout.
MacTavish said he was impressed with how his fourth liners looked with the man advantage, a situation they are not used to being in.
“That was the best we have executed all year long,” he laughed. “That was surgical precision. They must have been practising on their own. They aren’t even in the meetings.”
The Canadiens got one back midway through the final frame as Boullion corralled a bouncing puck and blasted a shot past Roloson.
Montreal plays the third game of a six-game trip on Friday in Colorado while Edmonton starts a four game trip in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Notes. Edmonton defenceman Denis Grebeshkov had to be helped off the ice early in the second after being run feet-first into the boards by Tomas Plekanec and did not return Forward Shawn Horcoff returned to the Oilers first line after missing the last two games with a hip injury Montreal shook up its lineup with an influx of blue-liners. The Canadiens dressed eight defencemen, with Mathieu Dandeneault and Josh Gorges playing forward Oilers forward Fernando Pisani took part in his first full practice on Tuesday since breaking his ankle in mid-November and will head out with the team on their road trip Wednesday’s game was Montreal’s first visit to Rexall Place since Dec. 15, 2005, when the Oilers won 5-3. The teams last met on Nov. 7, 2006, when the Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout in Montreal It was a significant night in the Habs’ 100-year history as the Canadiens played their 3,000th road game.