Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin – Eric Staal – Tyler Toffoli
Corey Perry – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson
Paul Byron – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Artturi Lehkonen
Joel Edmundson – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov – Victor Mete
Carey Price – Jake Allen
Otto Leskinen, Brandon Baddock, Michael Frolik, Jake Evans, Charlie Lindgren
Ben Chiarot (hand), Joel Armia (COVID protocol)
After sitting idle for a week, it was finally time for Eric Staal to make his Canadiens debut at the Bell Centre. While most expected that Staal would be the pivot on Montreal’s fourth line, Dominique Ducharme had something different in mind. Staal was a gifted a top six position centering Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Toffoli.
Staal had a rather nondescript sixty minutes, playing it safe, deferring to his linemates. Staal kept his shifts unusually brief, just 36 seconds on average, the shortest on the team and about one half of an average Connor McDavid trip over the boards.
Where Staal shined was at the faceoff dot winning the game’s opening draw and going on to a 14 of 18 success rate. After falling behind by two goals, the Canadiens scored twice in the third period to force overtime. All that set the scene for a fairytale ending.
We know the formula by now for overtime. Ducharme once again started the overtime with Phillip Danault, Paul Byron and Jeff Petry. Ducharme knows as well as we do that he isn’t going to get offence, even the game-winning kind from Danault and Byron, but he explains that it is important to get possession in overtime, so he trusts Phil to win the draw.
Danault had the lowest faceoff winning percentage of Canadiens centres in this game. And Danault lost three times to Leon Draisaitl in the extra frame alone. Ducharme’s theory foiled once again.
So it was left to the 36-year-old veteran to take an important draw with 1:16 remaining in overtime. Staal beat Draisaitl at the faceoff dot. The puck was exchanged from Petry to Toffoli and finally back to Staal.
He delivered the game-winner with 58 seconds left in the extra period and in doing so handed the Canadiens with their first overtime win of the season.
The Canadiens will skate at Brossard on Tuesday at 11:45 am. before boarding their charter to head to Toronto. The Habs will face the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
▲ Carey Price, Josh Anderson, Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov, Corey Perry
▼ Jonathan Drouin, Joel Edmundson, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault
Check out the game preview here: Oilers @ Canadiens: Staal To Make Habs Debut