SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers pack 'em in for Habs

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:15 PM ET

Their arrival is always highly anticipated.

Regardless of where the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in the NHL standings, their visit to Edmonton is a big event.

Thursday the Canadiens make their one and only trip to town to take on the Edmonton Oilers (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

“It’s great, the Original Six teams are outstanding,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “It’s certainly a bipartisan crowd, there is no doubt about that, there is a lot of noise either way.

“It’s a fun environment and that’s the way it should be, you’d like to see that in every single rink because the game is that popular and everyone has alliances to different teams. Certainly the Original Six seem to do that to everybody.”

The Canadiens have been making an annual pilgrimage to Edmonton since changes to the NHL schedule three seasons ago.

Thursday’s visit is the first of a three-game swing through Western Canada for the club. On Sunday, they’ll square off against the Calgary Flames in the outdoor Heritage Classic.

“It’ll be a fun game, there’ll be a lot of energy in the building,” said Oilers centre Andrew Cogliano. “Usually when they play here, they get a lot of fans to come out. When you play games like that, it’s easy to get up for them.”

The Oilers have won the last two games against the Canadiens at Rexall Place.

Last season, they pulled out a 3-2 victory early in the year. The previous season, the Oilers skated to a 7-2 victory over the Canadiens.

“It’s always fun to play them, I used to know a lot of players on their team from when I played in Hamilton,” said Oilers winger J.F. Jacques. “Now there are only I couple of guys that I played in the minors with, but it’s still special to play them.

“I grew up watching them play.”

In the teams’ only meeting of this season, the Oilers battled back from a two-goal, third-period deficit and went on to win 4-3 in overtime with Dustin Penner scoring the winner.

The Canadiens head into the contest having lost four of their last five games. On Tuesday they fell in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabers.

“It’s always a tight game against them,” said Jacques. “We know they have a fast team and they’re going to skate hard and we have to try and find a way to counter that speed and make them follow us.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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