They expected a bipartisan crowd, and it’s what the Edmonton Oilers got Thursday at Rexall Place.
For the rookies, getting cheered against en masse at home was a new experience.
Yet they didn’t seem fazed as the Oilers skated to a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, sending half the building home disappointed.
“It was different,” said Oilers rookie Taylor Hall. “But at the same time, when we scored our third goal, I haven’t heard the building that loud since our home opener.
“You could tell that the Oilers fans were trying to out-cheer the Canadiens fans and that was really cool.”
As is the case whenever the Canadiens come to town, half the building switched allegiance and decided to cheer for the storied franchise.
And as has been the case for since the 2000-2001 season — not including the outdoor Heritage Classic game in 2003 — those wearing Canadiens jerseys have backed the wrong horse.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” said Hall. “I think all of us were kind of anticipating that. When the Canadiens or any Canadian team comes in here, it’s always a good match and the place has that Canadian atmosphere, where everyone loves the game and loves being there.”
The victory gave the Oilers a sweep of the season series over the Canadiens, having won the first encounter in Montreal.
It also marked the seventh consecutive time the Oilers have beaten Montreal at Rexall Place.
“It was fun, there was a lot of energy in the building,” said Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle. “I think the pace of the game was back and fourth, it was kind of a track meet and fans love that stuff.
“There was very good energy in the crowd.”
Having had a similar experience when they hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this season, the Oilers were prepared for the type of atmosphere that awaited them for the contest.
Fortunately for them, they didn’t give the Canadiens fans much to cheer about.
“We knew what to expect coming in,” Eberle said. “At the same time, any type of noise out there is better than no noise.
“It’s easy to get up for a game like this and you could tell, the intensity out there was pretty good.”