Canadiens-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 07, 2012
Barring tremendous runs and a ton of help, the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are likely to miss out on the playoffs. The Canadiens could be in for further disappointment given their recent efforts at Rexall Place. Hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive loss overall in this series, Montreal tries for just its second win in 10 visits to Edmonton as the teams conclude their season series Thursday night. In the midst of a 1-7-0 slide, the Eastern Conference-worst Canadiens (25-32-10) sit 12 points behind Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff berth. Gaining ground in the standings could prove difficult against Edmonton (26-34-6). Montreal has compiled a 1-6-2 record over its last nine road meetings with the Oilers, surrendering a combined 19 goals in losing four in a row. The Canadiens have also dropped three straight overall in the series, most recently falling 3-1 at home Nov. 8. Montreal kicked off a four-game road swing Tuesday with a 5-4 loss at Calgary. After falling behind 2-0, the Canadiens evened the score midway through the second period before allowing the next three goals. "We play hard in spurts and then we make mental errors that always cost us the game," said Carey Price, who made 29 saves. "That's just the way it's been going this year." Edmonton, meanwhile, snapped an 0-3-0 skid with Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win at San Jose. Jordan Eberle scored his team-leading 30th goal and Ryan Smyth tied the score late in the second period before Sam Gagner recorded the shootout's lone tally. "Fighting our way back at the end of the game I thought showed some real character on our team," coach Tom Renney said of his team, which is 16 points behind the eighth-place Sharks. "We're gonna work every night and we're gonna try." Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves Tuesday, improving to 4-2-0 with a 2.18 goals-against average over his last six starts. "To have a good battle from start to finish and to get a win out of it is a great experience and very satisfying," he said. Nikolai Khabibulin, 1-10-2 with a 3.73 GAA over his last 14 games, might be able to get back on track should Renney give him the chance versus Montreal. Khabibulin has won four consecutive starts against the Canadiens and is 7-1-0 with one tie and a 1.47 GAA in his last 10 matchups with them. Price, on the other hand, is 1-4-1 with a 3.65 GAA in this series - his worst mark against any opponent he's faced more than five times. Price is 2-7-1 with a 3.27 GAA in his last 10 starts overall, a stretch in which he's surrendered fewer than three goals just once. "We just have to focus on better starts and helping out our goalie and being better in front of him," right wing Ryan White told the team's official website. Max Pacioretty, who scored twice Tuesday, has notched six goals and two assists in his last eight road games. He found the back of the net Nov. 8 versus the Oilers for his only point in four matchups with them.
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