Feb 21, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt (40) celebrates his goal with teammate Adam Pardy (27) during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE
Inexplicably, Mike Ribeiro had to wait six years for his return to Montreal after his hometown Canadiens dumped him for Janne Niinimaa. Ribeiro got his satisfaction last night, and we've all seen the glorious video evidence of it at this point. He played well in his return engagement, a crucial 3-0 Stars win. This was a team win though. As a group the Stars outworked the Canadiens on just about every shift. After one the Stars led the Canadiens 8-3 in the scoring chance column.
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Over the course of 60 minutes the Stars outchanced the Canadiens 17-15, but the Canadiens put on the standard flurry of chances late to shrink the deficit. The bottom six once again brought the noise. They took the Canadiens to the glass early and often setting the tone for the game early. Really it would be hard to complain about any aspect of the tilt. So, I won't. Follow the jump to see the player report and detailed chance report.
The Stars first goal of the game is a gift wrapped summary of the game as a whole. Jake Dowell wins a faceoff. The puck gets deep for Ryan Garbutt. Garbutt goes full steam ahead behind the net. He chips the puck around the flat footed Canadiens defender. He takes the puck out front for a shot on net. Toby Petersen dug the puck out of the corner after Price turned the initial bid away. Petersen then passed it to Garbutt who found open ice ten feet away from the net. Garbutt deposited his first NHL goal on the resulting shot. All three of the Stars forwards beat their counterparts. They were hungrier. They won every 50/50 puck on the shift. They ultimately generated two scoring chances off the stick of Garbutt with the final chance resulting in the aforementioned first goal of Garbutt's NHL career. The fourth line (and everyone else) wanted it more.
The Stars most positive players against the Canadiens were, oddly enough, the defense pair of Adam Pardy and Philip Larsen at +4 and +5. Pardy looked incredibly awkward handling the puck, but turnovers were rare. He did get Larsen killed once, but he bounced right back up. Larsen, over the past couple of weeks, looks to have taken a step forward defensively. He has been much more physical in the defensive zone. The two minute minor he took for holding last night is a good example. Cole dwarfs Larsen physically, but Larsen stuck with him all the way to the net. He took a penalty, but it wasn't a particularly good call with both guys holding on to each other. The take away from the play was that Larsen was right in Cole's face all the way to the net, and he prevented a much more serious chance from taking place. I don't think that play happens two weeks ago.
The top forward group was the fourth line again. Garbutt, Dowell, and Petersen were all +2. Tom Wandell was a +3 with a goal. The goal came after Tomas Vincour (+2) intercepted a very poor pass from Carey Price at the blueline. Vincour had at least two puck thefts near the Canadiens blueline. The other was a stick lift early in the first they led to a solid two on one save by Price. He continutes to do everything except score (legal) goals.
The Stars are in Chicago waiting for their Thursday night matchup with the Blackhawks. Kari Lehtonen is supposedly going to get a rest so the responsibility of keeping the Stars in the game will fall to Richard Bachman. The Stars will need him to come up large if they have any designs on taking two points from the Hawks. If they can maintain the energy level they've had for the past week they'll be fine.