Jordan Eberle and Ryan Jones had third-period goals 15 seconds apart for the Oilers, who have won two straight at home following seven consecutive losses in Edmonton.
"At the end of the day, that's what we have right now, playing the spoiler," coach Tom Renney said. "We have to continue to gain respect.
"Especially after the three games that preceded these two that have been well-chronicled as not being very good at home. We are a proud organization. We want to represent Edmonton and our fans the way they would like us to and that means flat-out hard work and showing up every night."
Jeff Halpern scored for the Canadiens, who have lost five of six. The Canadiens also have dropped four straight and eight of nine in Edmonton, where they haven't won since Nov. 22, 2003.
Already short of experienced talent on the blue line, Montreal lost defenseman James Wisniewski 7 minutes into the first when he was hit in the face with Taylor Hall's shot.
Wisniewski was taken to a hospital for observation and did not return.
"Losing James early in the game when we already had a depleted defense made it difficult," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "I thought we competed hard, though.
"If it hadn't have been for a couple of breakdowns in the third, I thought we had a good game. We created chances but their goaltending was strong."
Hall said it was a unique experience to see the crowd split pretty evenly.
"It was quite the environment with the fans of both teams cheering like they were in the building," he said. "When we scored our third goal of the game ... well, I haven't heard the fans cheer for us like that since our first game of the season."
Edmonton opened the scoring 8 minutes in when Hemsky fired his 11th goal of the season past goaltender Carey Price.
Price kept it from becoming a two-goal game when he robbed Eberle with a quick glove save in tight.
The Oilers had another great opportunity in the waning seconds as the puck was bouncing in front of the Montreal goal before the horn sounded.
Edmonton had 11 first-period shots while Montreal fired eight on Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, making his second straight start after snapping a 14-game losing streak Tuesday.
Montreal tied it 1-all at 4:06 of the second as the puck bounced around in the crease after a hard point shot before Halpern tucked it under Khabibulin in a mad scramble.
Khabibulin made some big stops to keep the game even after 40 minutes, particularly when he came across to deny Alexandre Picard in close on the game's only power play through the first two periods.
Edmonton took a 3-1 lead with Eberle and Jones scoring 15 seconds apart in the third.
Eberle scored 3:58 in, taking Hall's pass before seemingly catching Price by surprise with a high shot from in tight.
The Oilers made it a two-goal game off the ensuing faceoff as Jones took the puck up ice and put it in off Price's pads.
Hemsky added an empty-net goal with less than a minute left.
Khabibulin finished with 36 saves for his 10th win of the season.
The Oilers close out a six-game homestand Saturday against Atlanta. Montreal next plays in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary on Sunday.
Martin tied Bryan Murray for seventh on the career list for games behind the bench at 1,239. Martin is also 13 wins from 600. ... It was the second of two meetings between the teams. Edmonton won the previous one 4-3 in overtime at Montreal on Dec. 1. ... Montreal defenseman Hal Gill missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury while Jaroslav Spacek also sat out with a lower-body ailment. ... Seeking some defensive help, the Canadiens traded a 2012 fifth-round pick to Anaheim for defenseman Paul Mara, who played in 42 games with Montreal in 2009-10. ... Edmonton forward Gilbert Brule is reportedly close to returning to the team. Brule has missed more than a month with a bad ankle and a prolonged battle with the flu.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Rexall Place Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Referees: Tom Kowal, Tom Kowal Linesmen: Steve Miller, Thor Nelson
Attendance: 16,839 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Ales Hemsky (11)
Assist: Shawn Horcoff
Jeff Halpern (9)
Assists: Lars Eller, Roman Hamrlik
Jordan Eberle (13)
Assists: Taylor Hall, Andrew Cogliano
Ryan Jones (13)
Assists: Jean-Francois Jacques, Liam Reddox
Ales Hemsky (12)
(Empty Net) Assists: Dustin Penner, Theo Peckham