Canadiens outlast Oilers in shootout
Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens took advantage of a timely game against the NHL's worst team.
Andrei Kostitsyn scored on Montreal's fifth shootout attempt and Halak turned aside five shots in the tiebreaker to help the Canadiens extend their winning streak to four games with a 5-4 victory over Edmonton on Thursday night.
Halak, who stopped 21 shots in regulation and overtime, and Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk each turned aside the first four shooters they faced before Kostitsyn deked and shot past Dubnyk on the Canadiens' fifth attempt.
Sam Gagner, whose power-play goal 3:43 in gave Edmonton its only lead at 2-1, lost control of the puck on the Oilers' final attempt.
"I was pretty confident going into the shootout but it's all about luck, I think, in the shootout," Halak said. "It's 50-50 per cent to the guy scoring or me stopping the puck. Lucky for us, we scored the goal and he mishandled the last one."
Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and Sergei Kostitsyn scored for Montreal, which led three times during the game.
"We have the two points so we're happy but we have to play better," Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov said. "It's not easy against these teams because they have nothing to lose."
Montreal moved into a tie with Philadelphia for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. The Flyers lost 5-1 to Boston, which is eighth in the East with 72 points. Both Philadelphia and the Bruins have played three less games than the Canadiens, who have won five of six since the Olympic break.
"We'll be happy if we make the playoffs," Markov said. "That's our goal. That's why we have to play hard every game."
Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and Shawn Horcoff also scored for Edmonton, which lost its second in a row.
Dubnyk made 22 saves. The 23-year-old rookie has yet to win in 11 NHL games, falling to 0-7-2.
"I thought our defence really worked hard tonight and they played a solid game, and Dubnyk did a good job," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We're still having some problems with our down-low coverage, but we fought back all night. I certainly would have liked a better result, but it seems like we haven't got that as often as we'd like."
Edmonton is last overall in the NHL with a 21-39-6 record and 49 points.
'The guys were there for me'
Horcoff, who tied it at 4-4 with his 11th goal midway through the third, drove in on a short-handed breakaway late in overtime but was stopped by Halak after Andrew Cogliano was called for holding 3:28 into overtime.
"I told myself, 'I've got to stop it,'" Halak said. "That was the only way because, otherwise, I would be really disappointed with the game, but right now we've got the two points. It wasn't my best game, but the guys were there for me."
The final 45.6 seconds were played 3-on-3 when Plekanec was sent off for slashing Horcoff on the breakaway.
The Canadiens failed to take advantage of a 4-on-3 power-play for the first 1:43 of overtime after Edmonton was called for too many men with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
Horcoff drove a slapshot past Halak from just inside the blue line 9:19 into the third as Edmonton drew even for the second time in the period and third time in the game.
"I touched it a little bit but it happens," Halak said. "Everybody has these types of nights."
Sergei Kostitsyn had given Montreal its third lead 1:14 earlier when he came out of the right corner to beat Dubnyk for an unassisted goal to make it 4-3.
Sergei Kostitsyn assisted on Moen's goal 15:25 into the second which put the Canadiens up 3-2.
Plekanec gave Montreal an early 1-0 lead with his 20th goal 1:20 in. Gionta added his 21st to tie the game at 2-2 at 9:45 of the first as the two teams combined to score four goals before the midpoint of the opening period.
Nilsson and Gagner scored 1:21 apart early in the first as Edmonton came back to take a 2-1 lead 3:43 in. The Oilers tied it at 3-3 when Cogliano scored 32 seconds into the third.
Halak stopped Gilbert Brule on a partial breakaway moments after the Canadiens were unable to take advantage of a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage early in the third.