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Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

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MONTREAL — Connor McDavid provided yet another highlight-reel goal Monday night with a game winner at Bell Centre. Fortunately for the Montreal Canadiens, it came in overtime. 

McDavid, sent in alone after a stretch pass from Leon Draisaitl, flipped the puck over Jake Allen's right shoulder at 2:42 of the extra session to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 victory.

By making it out of regulation, the Canadiens earned the single point they were looking for to clinch a post-season berth in the North Division.

"Tonight was an enormous game," said Montreal forward Paul Byron, who had a goal and an assist. "We knew what was at stake."

McDavid, who also had an assist, now has a league-leading 102 points on the season. With two Montreal players caught deep in the offensive zone in overtime, Draisaitl found an in-flight McDavid on the opposite wing.  

"If it's kind of a quick turnover like that was and you've got a couple guys trapped, he's obviously thinking what I'm thinking," McDavid said.

Dominik Kahun, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal had the other goals for the Oilers (34-18-2), who extended their road winning streak to six games.

Byron's new linemates, Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen, tallied for the Canadiens (24-21-10), who are winless in their last four games.

Edmonton has already locked up second place in the North Division. The Canadiens moved nine points ahead of the fifth-place Calgary Flames, who have three games in hand on Montreal.

The Canadiens will close out their regular season Wednesday against the Oilers. Edmonton will wrap up its campaign Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Evans opened the scoring in the first period with his first goal since Jan. 21, sniping a shot over Mikko Koskinen's left shoulder.

Neal answered 20 seconds later at 9:52 by flipping in a loose puck by the side of the net. He beat Montreal goalie Jake Allen again seconds later but hit the post. 

Nugent-Hopkins gave Edmonton the lead at 13:29. Kailer Yamamoto had his stick lifted on a 3-on-2 break but the puck still found Nugent-Hopkins for his 15th goal of the season.  

Byron pulled Montreal even at 5:56 of the second period. He roofed a backhand after Lehkonen's pass slid through the goalmouth.

Edmonton took a 3-2 lead when McDavid blew past Tomas Tatar before finding Kahun at the side of the net for the tap-in at 9:26.

Lehkonen beat Koskinen early in the third period but the goal was waived off after a review determined the Canadiens were offside. 

The Montreal forward made no mistake at 13:04 when he wired it in from a tight angle. The game-tying goal was as big as a winner. 

"We had a tall task tonight," Byron said. "It was great to see everybody just pushing so hard in the third period to try to get (the equalizer). It was a great team effort."

Byron returned to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. Lehkonen and Evans had two assists piece on the new third line, which was also tasked with trying to shut down McDavid's line.

"We were pretty confident that we were going to clinch the spot either this game or the next game," Lehkonen said. "But now that we've done it, we've just got to keep building on toward the end of the season."

Edmonton outshot Montreal 35-28.

Forward Brendan Gallagher (thumb) and goalie Carey Price (concussion) skated Monday morning but head coach Dominique Ducharme said neither player will play before the playoffs. 

Edmonton clinched its playoff spot on May 3. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press