Scrivens, Pouliot lead Oilers over Canadiens 3-0
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) After stumbling out of the gate, the Edmonton Oilers have hit their stride.
Ben Scrivens made 29 saves in his seventh career shutout, Benoit Pouliot had a goal and an assist, and the Oilers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 on Monday night.
Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall also scored for the Oilers, who have won four straight after an 0-4-1 start - the worst in franchise history.
''It feels good,'' Yakupov said. ''I think it's the best moment I've had with the team in the last three years. It's a really good feeling when the team is winning, especially here at Rexall Place with our fans.''
Scrivens said the shutout was truly a team effort, with his teammates committed to doing whatever it took to preserve the win by throwing their bodies in front of pucks.
''It's a huge testament to those guys - they're fearless out there,'' he said. ''It's kind of crazy: I have all the gear, it kind of makes sense for me to block shots, but those guys are laying themselves on the line and putting themselves in danger and we have to respond to that. You can't talk about this win without mentioning those big blocked shots in the second and third.''
Dustin Tokarski stopped 16 of 18 shots for the Canadiens (7-2-0), who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
''I didn't like what I saw today,'' defenseman P.K. Subban said. ''We had some key opportunities that we didn't bury. For us to wait until the third period to start playing the way we want to play is too late. We're not that good. We are good when we are playing the right way. We are an average team at best when we don't play the right way.
''We have played a lot of good hockey of late and this is not time to panic, but we have to play the same way every game and I don't think we played the way that has gotten us so much success early in the season,'' he said.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said that while his team was a bit off, the Oilers deserved some credit as well.
''We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone,'' Therrien said. ''We were just having a hard time generating offense. The Oilers blocked a lot of shots tonight. You have to give them credit. Their goalie made some key saves, too. It's a fine line between winning and losing.''
Montreal came close to starting the scoring in an up-tempo first period. With 5 minutes remaining, the Canadiens had a flurry of shots before Max Pacioretty fired one into the net from the high slot. But the goal was disallowed when it was determined Brendan Gallagher interfered with Scrivens after bowling him over in the crease seconds earlier.
Edmonton went up 1-0 with 18 seconds left in the first. Mark Arcobello raced to a loose puck to create a 2-on-1 and fed a nice pass to Pouliot, who deked and beat Tokarski with a backhand for his first goal with the Oilers.
Yakupov gave the Oilers a two-goal lead 6 1/2 minutes into the second period after a shot came off the boards to Pouliot at the side of the net. He sent it through the crease to Yakupov, who scored his second of the season.
The shots were 17-12 in Montreal's favor through 40 minutes.
The Canadiens pulled Tokarski for an extra skater with 3 minutes left, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sprung Hall for an empty-net goal.
''Overall, it was a good game. It was really tight,'' Yakupov said. ''That's a good team. They are really hard to play against. We can see why they made it to the conference final last season.''
Montreal plays the second game on its trip to Western Canada on Tuesday in Calgary.
Edmonton plays the sixth game of a season-high, seven-game homestand Wednesday against Nashville.
NOTES: Oilers forward Matt Hendricks left late in the first period after being run headfirst into the boards by Subban, but returned early in the second. ... The teams split their two-game series last season. ... Edmonton has won nine of its last 12 home games against the Canadiens. ... Montreal's 7-1-0 start was its best since 1961-62. Since that season, the Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 12 times. ... Oilers rookie Leon Draisaitl turned 19 and played his ninth game of the season. One more for the third overall pick in the 2014 draft and Edmonton must keep him up for the entire season. ... Nathan Beaulieu, a recent call-up from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, stepped in to take the place of Jarred Tinordi as part of the Canadiens' third defensive pairing. ... Scrivens went 3-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .920 save percentage last week.