The Dallas Stars traveled to Montreal with the goal of keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. With just three wins in their past ten games the Stars have failed to take advantage of a muddled playoff race and the eyes of the fans had already started to look toward the future. What had been most frustrating was the lack of success despite some admirable efforts by the Stars, who have seen their offense completely dry up -- especially with Jamie Benn injured and out.
The Stars, powered by another strong game by Tomas Vincour and Ryan Garbutt, overpowered the Montreal Canadiens on the road in what can only be described as the team's most complete game since the holidays. While it's important to remember that the Canadiens are struggling worse than the Stars this season, Dallas made certain they would walk away with two points by dominating an inferior hockey team on the road.
It's something that hasn't happened very often this season.
The Stars also received a big performance from Kari Lehtonen, who continues to play at an elite level and recorded his second shutout of the season.
The Stars continue to get big performances from some new faces, with Vincour and Garbutt easily taking player of the game honors with their hustle and hard work. The Stars have not had an issue with "effort" the past few weeks, but the two rookies took "pesky" to a whole new level against Montreal and finally saw their hard work pay off on the scoreboard. Garbutt opened the scoring with his first NHL goal in the first period and Vincour's hustle created an offensive zone turnover that resulted in the rare Tom Wandell goal.
The Stars now sit just one (or three) points out of a playoff spot and have, for at least one game, rekindled hope that a playoff berth is possible. The big question, of course, becomes how this factors into the trade deadline plans by Tom Gaglardi and Joe Nieuwendyk -- but the Stars still have a few games left to play before then. Tonight's win was big but it matters little if the team doesn't win in Chicago or at home against Minnesota.