Khaira scores 2 as Oilers beat struggling Canadiens 6-2
MONTREAL (AP) Jujhar Khaira hopes he is finding his groove with the Edmonton Oilers.
The 23-year-old forward had his first career two-goal game to help the Oilers beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 Saturday night.
That gave Khaira five points in four games since returning to the lineup after being scratched for two games.
”Playing the last few games, I built confidence and I’m getting confidence from my teammates,” said Khaira, who has been in and out of the lineup since the start of the season and has five goals and nine points in 16 games. ”It’s nice coming to the rink.
”There are always words of encouragement. Just having that on your side, you go out there with a lot of confidence.”
Mike Cammalleri, Milan Lucic, Oscar Klefbom and Yohann Auvitu also scored for the Oilers, who have won four of their last six. Laurent Brossoit stopped 22 shots.
Khaira helped Edmonton chase Montreal goalie Carey Price 2:24 into the second period after he gave up four goals on only 13 shots. Antti Niemi stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
”I know I can play in this league but it always takes some time to figure it out,” said Khaira, a third-round draft pick in 2012. ”You play little stints here and there the last couple of years, but being on the team regularly is definitely different.
”Over time I’m slowly learning. I’m getting a lot of help from the players and coaches and I’m just trying to help the team as much as I can.”
Alex Galchenyuk and Phillip Danault scored for Montreal, which has lost three straight at home (0-2-1) since a five-game winning streak.
”A game like that – you know how Detroit felt after we beat them 10-1 (on Dec. 2). We felt a bit like that tonight,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. ”You know the importance of the game.
”I’m not brushing it off, but I’ve got to get ready for the next game. We need to get better at winning battles for loose pucks.”
Cammalleri, a former Canadiens player, broke in alone and saw his wrist shot trickle through 7:36 into the game. It was Cammalleri’s third goal in three games against Montreal this season, having scored twice while with Los Angeles before his trade to the Oilers. He will face the Canadiens again Dec. 23 in Edmonton.
”I don’t think it has anything to do with Montreal, but there’s no doubt that I enjoy playing against the Canadiens in this building and I enjoyed playing for the Canadiens,” Cammalleri said.
Price made a deft move to stop a shot from behind his net, but then saw his soft pass picked off by Ryan Strome and sent to Khaira, who jammed it in before the goalie could get back at 11:37.
Price was slow to get across his net as a rebound came off the end boards for Khaira to shoot into an open side 1:11 into the second to make it 3-0.
Lucic scored a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the right circle at 2:24, prompting the goaltending change. Connor McDavid got a point in a fourth straight game on the play.
Asked how he felt about getting the hook, Price said ”well, I didn’t wake up this morning hoping to get pulled. … It was a big game for us, Saturday night. But we fell flat.”
Galchenyuk drifted to the front of the net in time to redirect Jeff Petry’s feed past Brossoit on a power play with 6:16 remaining in the second to get Montreal on the scoreboard.
Brendan Gallagher took two minor penalties early in the third and Edmonton capitalized on the second one as Klefbom’s point shot went in off Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner’s skate at 2:39.
Auvitu finished a rush with McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi at 3:09 to push the lead to 6-1.
Danault capped the scoring with 4:02 remaining.
NOTES: Khaira has five points in four outings since sitting out two games two weeks ago. … Jonathan Drouin returned to the Montreal lineup after missing four games.
Oilers: At Toronto on Sunday night.
Canadiens: Host New Jersey on Thursday night.