Player grades: Edmonton Oilers aces beat Montreal Canadiens "B" team in overtime

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In a nothing game the Montreal Canadiens sat almost all their big guns, while the Edmonton Oilers played their top guys.

Edmonton won the game 4-3.

The match lacked intensity until the Montreal wannabes came out hard in the third to tie the game. In overtime, though, Edmonton’s talented group could not be denied.

When it came to Grade A chances, Edmonton had eight, Montreal seven (running count).

Connor McDavid, 7. Two assists (both of them kind of iffy), but two assists! That will make Oilers fans smile. McDavid got beat up the ice on Montreal’s shorthanded goal in the first. He got the cheapest of second assists on RNH’s first period power play goal, but the assists all look the same in the record books.  He got his second assist on Drai’s goal, putting the puck on net for an extended crease battle. In the third, he knocked Tomas Tatar to the ice with four crosschecks to the back, no penalty, as that’s evidently allowed in the NHL these days. It was more of the welcome meanish streak we’ve seen from McD in recent weeks. Late in the third he set up Kahun for a dangerous slot shot.


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Dominik Kahun, 7. He scored the winning goal in OT, bursting in and executing a quick deke. But he was slow on the back check on a Montreal 3-on-1 early in the second. Skating is not his great strength. He also battled hard through a Montreal d-man to earn a Grade B shot in the second.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 6. He battled hard in front of the net and got an “A” chance off a Barrie outside shot and rebound in the first. Still looking good with McD.

Leon Draisaitl, 8. He flashed his impressive talent in this one enough to put Edmonton over the top. He scored a goal on a scramble play around the Montreal net. Late in the third he threw Joel Armia to the ice, kicked off a virtuous cycle that saw Nurse hit the post. He made his greatest play of the game in overtime taking a bouncing pass, pulling it from behind him to ahead of him so as not to go offside, then finding Kuhan breaking in, and finally taking a hard hit for his good work. Excellent effort and skill there from big Drai.

Kyle Turris, 6. He got a 5-alarm slot shot in tight off a Draisaitl feed in the second. He did not look out of place with Drai and RNH.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He beat Montreal’s young goalie Cayden Primeau with a high wrister in the first, an ugly one to let in. He and Drai started to work their DYNamite line magic in the second, combining on some fine o-zone passing plays. He jammed the net hard on Drai’s power play goal.

Devin Shore, 5. Passed when he should have shot on a first period two-on-one. Was otherwise steady enough, though he allowed an outside shot on net during a late penalty kill that was tipped for a dangerous chance.


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Jujhar Khaira, 5. He’s working his way back into things after sitting out with injury, but has yet to bring his “A” game. He did lead the Oilers with five hits.

Josh Archibald, 6. He was flying out there, a comment that we write in about half of his game grade remarks. He took a late hooking penalty.

Alex Chiasson, 7. A typically effective Chiasson game. He got a solid rebound jam chance early on after an outside shot shot by Bear. A moment later he scored, with Neal putting a nice pass to him in high slot; Chiasson then worked it over to the right dot and fired in an outside shot which went in on a Montreal deflection. He battled hard in a second period power play scramble in the Montreal crease, leading to a Draisaitl goal. He nailed Ben Chiarrot with a hard hit.

Ryan McLeod, 4. He stumbled in the third, allowing in the sniper Caufield for a Grade A shot. Not his best game as an Oiler.

James Neal, 6. Put in a good effort all game.

Tyson Barrie, 6. His turnover early in the game directly led to Montreal’s first goal. His habit of early game errors needs to end before the playoffs start. But he may have stopped a goal off a Smith turnover early in the second. And his fine stretch pass kicked off the winning goal in OT.

Darnell Nurse, 7. He jolted Corey Perry in the third with a hard hit. He stepped up and helped thwart Montreal on a late power play chance. He hit the post late in the game after some great work by Draisaitl.

Adam Larsson, 6. Threw a hard hit on pesky Montreal forward Artturi Lehkonen. Otherwise a solid enough game, though he failed to keep a clean sheet on Grade A chances with a third period turnover.


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Dmitry Kulikov, 6. He tied up Corey Perry on a goal mouth play, preventing a goal against. He then blasted Perry on a pinch, a full extra grade point for that.

Caleb Jones, 4, He playing fine, but made an ugly turnover in the third, which Montreal quickly put in the net. It’s the kind of mistake Jones has struggled to avoid all year and will likely see him on the bench, with Kris Russell going in, as the playoffs proceed.

Ethan Bear, 4. He looked fast out there, though maybe because the game was played at a slower pace for the first two periods. But a few major mistakes. His failed pinch led to a Montreal 3-on-1 early in the second. On Montreal third goal, he let his man Suzuki go to the net uncontested.

Mike Smith, 6. Handcuffed a bit on Montreal’s first goal, but it was a quick developing play after Barrie’s turnover led to a slot chance. He did not have his best moment of the season on Montreal’s second goal, an outside wrister from the top of the circle. His turnover early in the second was saved by Barrie. He got snowed in the face at the net by a Montreal grinder Alex Belzile, a rough player trying to make a mark. This near injury raised the question: Why was Smith playing in a nothing game? He made a good save on a late game tip shot by Belzile.

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A pedestrian walks past a sign advertising COVID-19 vaccines at the Shoppers Drug Mart, 8065 104 St., in Edmonton Wednesday April 21, 2021.
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