MONTREAL — The Edmonton Oilers haven’t won often this season, but they ground one out against the top team in the NHL Eastern Conference on Thursday night.
Ryan Nugent Hopkins, with his second of the game, tied it with 25 seconds left in regulation time and Anton Lander won it with a goal 1:47 into overtime to lift Edmonton to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
“There’s no better feeling than to come back and win in overtime,” said Lander. “It’s a great team win.”
Matt Hendricks also scored for the Oilers (16-31-9), who are 2-2-0 so far on a six-game road trip that takes them to Ottawa on Saturday and Winnipeg on Monday. They outshot the Canadiens 38-26.
Despite the setback, Montreal (35-15-4) moved into first in the East on the point for the OT loss, although a seething coach Michel Therrien was not impressed.
“We played a really bad game in all aspects,” said Therrien. “We were lucky to get one point.”
Lander banged in the winner from the doorstep for his third of the season.
But a key to the win came late in the third when Tomas Plekanec took a penalty for playing the puck with his hand on a faceoff.
When he emerged from the box, he got the puck on a funny bounce off an official and went in on the empty Edmonton net.
But he hesitated just long enough for defenceman Oscar Klefbom to get into position and block his shot.
The puck went down the other end, where Nugent-Hopkins took it off defenceman Andrei Markov’s skate and scored on a spin-around shot from the slot.
“I got a little panicked there,” said Klefbom.
“If he had shot right away I don’t think I’d have had time to save it, but it turned out good. I’m glad Nuge picked it up and scored.”
Christian Thomas, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which ended a three-game winning run.
At 16:25 of the first frame, Jacob de la Rose forced a turnover and Thomas swept in on the left side to wire a shot to the top corner.
It was a first NHL goal and point for the son of former star Steve Thomas. De la Rose also got his first career point with an assist.
Galchenyuk scored his 16th as he whipped in a feed from P.K. Subban only 1:06 into the second period.
But the Oilers battled back and Hendricks deflected in Jeff Petry’s point shot at 4:04 and Nugent-Hopkins had a puck go in off his skate when goalie Dustin Tokarski lost it in his crease at 14:09.
Pacioretty’s 25th of the season came on a dash down the right side and quick wrist shot that beat Viktor Fasth to make it 3-2.
The Oilers were all over Montreal in the third period, outshooting them 15-5 and forcing Tokarski into some spectacular saves, including a sprawling pad stop on Luke Gadzic from close range. Ryan Hamilton later hit a goal post.
“That’s what it’s all about, winning games,” said Lander. “It’s not that fun to play when you lose games.
“It’s been a tough road, but we’re playing better. We’re being more aggressive, getting more chances, getting pucks to the net. That’s got to continue.”
The Oilers went 2-0-0 against Montreal for the season, including a 3-0 win at home Oct. 27.