Oilers' Lucic hopes for breakout game vs. Canadiens
For nearly a full calendar year, Milan Lucic of the Edmonton Oilers has battled a goal-scoring slump the likes of which he's never experienced in his 12-year NHL career.
Still, he's figured out how to produce against the Montreal Canadiens.
Lucic will try to help the Oilers avoid their fifth straight loss Tuesday night when they meet the Canadiens at Rogers Place.
Lucic has reached the 20-goal mark five times in his career, including a career-best 30 in 2010-11 with the Boston Bruins. After signing a seven-year deal with Edmonton (8-8-1) in 2016, the rugged winger potted 23 goals in his first season in blue and orange.
However, he slumped to 10 markers last season, and hasn't scored since opening night. All told, Lucic has two goals in his last 63 games -- and is trying to stay upbeat.
"I understand the numbers and the goals and all that type of stuff, but if I focus on my overall game, I feel like it's been pretty good and if I just stick with it, it's eventually going to go in," Lucic said Monday. "Maybe it's just the year 2018. It's just been not my year and everything that can bounce the other way has. Just stay with it until 2019 rolls around, maybe."
Facing Montreal (9-5-3) may be the perfect slumpbuster. Lucic has goals in each of his last three matchups with the Canadiens and the 14 career goals against them are his most against any opponent.
"(We've) got to bring it tomorrow against a team that's playing really well, really hard, getting contributions from a lot of guys," Lucic noted.
Connor McDavid said Lucic's contributions go beyond the scoresheet.
"It doesn't matter if he scores at all," said the Oilers captain, who has one goal in his last six games. "He's a guy that brings so much to the team, so much in the room. When he's playing hard, playing mean like he has been, he opens up so much ice."
Following a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, Edmonton has been outscored 17-6 during its skid. The Oilers have won seven of their last 10 at home versus the Habs.
Montreal opens a three-game western trip looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since a season-best three-game run from Oct. 13-17. The Canadiens got two goals from Andrew Shaw in a 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Shaw, a healthy scratch for two games at the end of October, has three goals in his last two games after failing to score since opening night.
"He's found his stride a little bit more than he did at the beginning. That's what we talked about with him," Montreal coach Claude Julien said Saturday. "He had some good practices when he wasn't playing and he pushed himself to try and find his stride."
Four of Shaw's six career goals against Edmonton have come in Western Canada.
Fellow wing Tomas Tatar scored the game-winner against Vegas, giving him four tallies in three games.
"I call him a warrior in a way, that he comes to play, plays hard every game. You know what to expect from him," Julien said.
Shea Weber practiced with the Canadiens for the first time this season Monday. However, according to the team's verified Twitter feed, Julien said the defenseman didn't participate in contact drills and there is no timetable for his return to the lineup.
Weber is on injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery in June and is not expected back until mid-December.
Updated November 13, 2018