It isn't often that a team has the number of both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, yet the Montreal Canadiens will look to continue their strong play against the host Edmonton Oilers and their star forwards on Monday night.
The game is the opener of a two-game set between the teams in Edmonton. Game 2 will be Wednesday night.
Montreal is 4-1-0 in five meetings against Edmonton this season, limiting the Oilers to seven goals over the five games. A huge part of that defensive effort has been keeping McDavid and Draisaitl in relative check, as the pair have combined for four points (two assists each) over the five games.
It's a far cry from how McDavid and Draisaitl have dominated the rest of the North Division. In 38 games against teams other than the Canadiens, McDavid has 69 points while Draisaitl has 61.
In Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, McDavid and Draisaitl each had two assists as Edmonton won 3-0. The victory brought the Oilers within three points of Winnipeg for second place in the North Division.
"Any time you're coming down the stretch and you're playing teams ahead of you, you want to beat them and tighten the gap," McDavid said. "So (this) was a big win for that. There's teams underneath (us) that are playing well. ... We can't just float our way into the playoffs."
Montreal sits seven points behind Edmonton in fourth place, yet the Canadiens are far from rolling as they embark on a five-game trip. The Habs are 2-5-0 over their past seven games, including a 4-0 shutout loss at home to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
"It would be nice to get a lead early, just to get some confidence going and get those feel-good starts," goaltender Carey Price said. "I think it's all about just building momentum right off the start of the game."
Price was back in net after missing six games due to a lower-body injury and didn't look particularly sharp in allowing three goals on 14 shots. The Habs could opt to start Jake Allen on Monday if they wish to ease Price more slowly into his usual starting duties.
Mike Smith made 26 saves against the Jets on Saturday for his third shutout of the season. Smith likely will start again for Edmonton on Monday unless the Oilers want to give Mikko Koskinen some work -- Koskinen has appeared in just one game since March 30.
Due to three postponements against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers had a six-day break between games before facing Winnipeg on Saturday.
The Oilers are 8-2-2 over their past 12 games.
Special-teams play has been a major part of that success. Edmonton has killed off 21 of 22 penalties over its past nine games, while the power-play unit is 7-for-21 in its past six games.
By contrast, Montreal's power play is slumping. After failing to score during four power-play chances against Ottawa, the Canadiens are 2-for-31 with the extra attacker over their past 11 games.
The two teams also will play in Edmonton on Wednesday. The Canadiens are 2-0-0 in their two previous games in Edmonton this season.
--Field Level Media