A split in Alberta
After old vet Ryan Smyth opened the scoring, the Canadiens scored three unanswered goals to take over an entertaining game.
Brendan Gallagher got them on the board during a second-period power play, and Brandon Prust made it 2-1 after 40 minutes.
Alex Galchenyuk's first of the season opened up a two-goal lead, and Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins pulled goaltender Devan Dubnyk with more than four minutes left.
After some tense moments, Max Pacioretty scored into the empty net.
Peter Budaj made 26 saves.
The Canadiens' western swing continues in Vancouver Saturday night.
Aafter Alex Galchenyuk's first goal of the season gave the Canadiens a 3-1 lead, Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins yanked goaltender Devan Dubnyk with more than four minutes left.
The Oilers came close, but Peter Budaj and his teammates stood tall.
Max pacioretty bagged an empty-netter - off an unselfish feed by Daniel Briere - to finish the Oilers off with seconds left.
Canadiens take the lead
An error by rookie Michaël Bournival caused the Canadiens to be called for Too many Men. And on the subsequent power play, vetran Ryan Smyth opened the scoring, beating Peter Budaj from close in as Canadiens penalty-killers scrambled around the zone.
Seven minutes later, on a Canadiens PP, Alex Galchenyuk picked up his sixth assist of the young season, feeding road roommate Brendan Gallagher for an easy tap-in past Devan Dubnyk.
A brilliant play by P.K. Subban at the Edmonton blueline created a chance for the fourth line and Brandon Prust banged in his first of the season – leaving the rugged winger one assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Edmonton ended the period with a stretch of dominance and outshot the Canadiens 10-8.
Scoreless first period
Rene Bourque had the best chance, ringing one off the goalpost past Devan Dubnyk.
Canadiens outshot the Oilers 12-9 but were outhit 12-3.
P.K. Subban played nine minutes ... and avoided the penalty box.
Brandon Prust gave away about four inches and 50 pounds in a spirited fight with Luke Gazdic.
And Michel Therrien shuffled his lines: Tomas Plekanec centring Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller with Daniel Brière and Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais with Bourque and Brian Gionta.
Canadiens try to bounce back
On their last swing through western Canada, in March, 2012, the Canadiens began their road trip with a 5-4 loss in Calgary.
Two nights later, that last-place Eastern Conference squad beat Edmonton 5-3 and followed up with a 4-1 win in Vancouver.
Will history repeat itself?
* Quote of the Day: San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl has been getting all kinds of stick from hockey's "old guard" (Translation: fun-hating, Don Cherry-loving alcoholics) for his hot doggery against the Rangers. Overhearing a question about in the Sharks' room, Joe Thornton snapped: "Shut up, have you ever played the game? I'd have my c--k out if I scored four goals. I'd have my c--k out, stroking it."