The Montreal Canadiens put on a show in front of a young matinee crowd on Super Bowl Sunday, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 at the Bell Center.
Jordan Harris had two goals, while Jonathan Drouin had two assists to lead the offensive rush. Jake Allen stood up to deny Connor McDavid and Co., making 29 saves for the win.
Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane scored for the Oilers, and Evan Bouchard contributed a couple of aides from the blue line. Stuart Skinner allowed six goals from 30 shots in the loss.
Unlikely markers once again the heroes
After their leading scorer Cole Caufield went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in late January, the Canadiens had to figure out where goals would come from without their star sniper.
Since then, Montreal has had a number of more obscure names rise to the challenge, and Sunday’s win was a prime example of that. Defenseman Jordan Harris, who entered the game with just two career tallies on him, doubled his career goal total with a pair against the Oilers, including a stylish solo effort for his second of the game.
Alex Belzile, called up by the AHL’s Laval Rocket, buried his first NHL goal in his 19th career game at the age of 31. his eighth goal of the season and the 200th point of his career.
Meanwhile, debutant Rafaël Harvey-Pinard continued his torrid scoring pace since earning a call-up to a major club, netting his sixth goal in just his ninth game of the season.
McDavid’s scoring streak comes to an end
Going into Sunday’s contest, Connor McDavid was hotter than ever, recording at least one point in 15 straight games.
The Canadiens refused to become another victim of the phenomenon, keeping the Oilers captain off the scoresheet. In a time of 23:51 on ice, McDavid was minus-3, and despite an impressive seven shots on goal, he couldn’t clear up Jake Allen.
In true McJesus fashion, however, he came painfully close to scoring yet another highlight goal.
Lethal Canadiens in special teams
Montreal are one of the worst teams in the league and one of the reasons they sit so low in the table is their poor numbers in both power play and penalty shooting. They are last in the NHL in power play efficiency (15.4%) and third worst when down by a man (72.5%).
Unusually, the Habs did much of their damage to the Oilers with their special teams, scoring two power-play goals and even getting a shorthanded count. They also held Edmonton — the league’s top men’s lead unit — to just one goal in six opportunities, including a huge 5-on-3 second-period kill (Evander Kane scored just after the second penalty went over).
Habs trade resources by increasing their shares
It’s no secret that the Canadiens intend to be sellers at the deadline, as the 2022-23 campaign is shaping up to be another rebuilding year for general manager Kent Hughes.
Montreal has a number of intriguing names to face at the deadline, with a handful of players set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Of these names, Jonathan Drouin and Evgenii Dadonov played particularly well, notching up three assists. Josh Anderson and Joel Armia, both under contract for a few more years but gaining more interest as the trade deadline approaches, also recorded a goal and an assist respectively.
It’s up for debate whether teams feel this small sample size is worth a deadline flyer, but at least the players are making it easier for their bosses to find them a new home on March 3.
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