The Edmonton Oilers attempt to complete a perfect three-game homestand and sweep the season series when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Edmonton began the string with a 5-3 win over San Jose on Monday and edged St. Louis 3-2 three nights later for its third consecutive overall victory.
The Oilers have won six of their nine games this month, including a 6-2 triumph at Montreal on Dec. 9 in which Jujhar Khaira registered the first two-goal performance of his career. “It was one of our more consistent 60-minute games we’ve played this year,” Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told the team’s website. “Definitely a positive game for us. We can learn from that.” Montreal will be completing the Canadian portion of its seven-game road trip after winning two of the first three contests. Byron Froese netted a tally and set up another on Friday as the Canadiens built a three-goal lead in Calgary before holding on for a 3-2 victory.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, TVA
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (16-15-4): Antti Niemi may make his first start since Nov. 22 and first appearance since Dec. 9 as Carey Price has been in the crease for each of Montreal’s last 12 games. Artturi Lehkonen returned to the lineup Friday after missing 16 contests with a lower-body injury and notched an assist. Tomas Plekanec recorded an assist against the Flames, leaving him three points shy of 600 for his career.
ABOUT THE OILERS (16-17-2): Nugent-Hopkins, who leads the team with 14 goals, enters Saturday with a three-game point streak during which he has recorded two goals and two assists. The 24-year-old is tied for second on the club with 26 points - 15 behind leader Connor McDavid, who has registered two goals and four assists over his last five contests. Edmonton is in the midst of its longest winning streak of the season and looks to reach .500 with a win in its last game before the holiday break.
1. Oilers G Cam Talbot has won each of his last six starts.
2. Montreal LW Alex Galchenyuk, who has registered a point in four of his last five games, needs three goals to reach 100 in the NHL.
3. Edmonton has only two players with double-digit goal totals, but four others are within two tallies of 10.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Oilers 1