CANADIENS (1-2-0) at OILERS (1-2-0)
The Canadiens will play their second game in as many nights in Western Canada when they go up against the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday.
The Habs will try to get back on the winning track after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Flames on Wednesday night in Calgary. After falling behind by three goals, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller managed to cut the deficit to one in the third period, but the Canadiens could not complete the comeback. In scoring his fourth goal of the year, Eller currently sits second in the league with six points.
Peter Budaj could make his first start of the season on Thursday night. Having already confirmed that he would use his backup during the extended road trip, head coach Michel Therrien has every reason to be confident in the Slovak netminder against Edmonton. In 24 career starts against the Oilers, Budaj has a 14-6-0-3 record and a 2.92 goals-against average. His 14 wins over Edmonton represent the most victories he has recorded against any NHL team.
After dropping two straight games to start the 2013-14 campaign, the Oilers recorded their first victory of the season on Monday night, overcoming a three-goal deficit in the third period and going on to beat the Devils 5-4 in a shootout. Andrew Ference, David Perron, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all scored their first goals of the year in the win. The tilt was Nugent-Hopkins’ first of the season after being sidelined for several months with a shoulder injury.
While the Oilers currently sit last in the Western Conference, Dallas Eakins’ squad finds itself among the league leaders in goals scored with 10 in three games. Still, the home team has a lot of work to do on their defensive game given that they’ve allowed 15 goals since the start of the year. That ranks them last in the NHL in that category.
Thursday night’s game will also mark the first NHL meeting between Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk. Close friends since their playing days together with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, the two former teammates have yet to square off in the professional ranks since being selected first and third overall respectively in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Josh Gorges remains questionable for Thursday night’s tilt after the veteran rearguard spent just 20 seconds on the ice in the third period in Calgary. If the 29-year-old defenseman is not ready to take on the Oilers, Nathan Beaulieu could take part in his first game of the year for the Canadiens after being called up from Hamilton two days ago.
Having grown up just a few minutes from Rexall Place, Brendan Gallagher will likely have family and friends in attendance when he plays his first game in his hometown since beginning his NHL career last season. The 21-year-old winger is having an excellent start to the year with two goals and three points in three games.
In their last visit to Edmonton in March 2012, the Canadiens earned a 5-3 victory. It was the Habs’ 18th win in 40 games in the City of Champions. Interestingly enough, their goaltender on that night was Peter Budaj.
Puck drop is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. EST.
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