Gameday Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CST)

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars weathered the best the West had to offer- Now it's time to reinforce the results with a steady diet of Eastern foes.

The Dallas Stars have dealt with adversity. Losing half of their defense in Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Sergei Gonchar wasn't enough- They had to go through a stretch with a back-to-back against Colorado, games in San Jose and Los Angeles, then the Kings, Canucks and Blues at home.

And the weathered it. And now sit just two points back of the Phoenix Coyotes having jumped over the Minnesota Wild.

Dealing with adversity turned out to be doable. With seven of their next eight against Eastern Conference opponents, it's dealing with success that could prove their undoing if focus is not maintained.

The Stars, after their 3-2 win over the Kings, are coming off their first multi-goal power play effort of their home season, two from Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole, and it's also their first back-to-back games at home with power play markers as well.

The Canadiens, in a sort of ironic contrast, are coming off a dreadful and league high TEN power plays surrendered in Carolina on New Years Eve. Double digit power-play opportunities come along, on average, just once or twice per season league-wide.

Puck drop will be just after 7:30pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest PROPER.

The Stars:

Sergei Gonchar is still likely out, practicing in his red jersey. Trevor Daley has started skating, in pads, even, but remains weeks and weeks away. Stephane Robidas is out of at least one cast but is still a long shot to return as March turns to April.

Colton Sceviour was sent back to the Texas Stars last week. Ray Whitney missed Tuesday's game with illness, as has Alex Chiasson before him- Now down a considerable amount of weight.

Others may have the illness in the locker room. Or not.

In other words, it's an NHL locker room at mid-season. Bumps, scrapes, illnesses and all- It comes with the territory.

Dustin Jeffrey filled in Tuesday but Whitney would seem to be likely to return. Either way, lines could shake out something like this:

Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin
Garbutt-Eakin-Roussel
Cole-Peverley-Chiasson
Horcoff-Fiddler-Whitney/Jeffrey

Kari Lehtonen has started every game of the home stand, but it's not out of the question that Dan Ellis will get the nod before it's all said and done. He's won four games at American Airlines Center this season and an upcoming run of Eastern opponents would be an idea time to get him in- Though Lehtonen is rolling right now. Keep an eye on the situation.

From Stars PR: "The Stars play host to the Montreal Canadeins for the first time since Dec. 21, 2010 when Dallas recorded a 5-2 victory over the Canadiens at American Airlines Center. The Stars have earned points in six of their last seven home games against Montreal, going 5-1-1 at home since the start of the 1998-99 season."

The Canadiens:

Michel Therrien was reticent after their loss to the Hurricanes, both taking blame for the rash of penalties while also questioning the officiating.

"We were ready to play, but we lost the momentum because we were undisciplined," he said. "We've been disciplined for most of the season. This is the first time I've seen that. There were some calls that were tough to take, but we hurt ourselves."

They may be in the East but they've earned points in 9 of their last 12 road games (7-3-2) and are a very respectable 4-4 on the road in the Western Conference, though the only Western "playoff team" they've beaten in the process was the Vancouver Canucks in October.

Carolina out-shot them 42-25 on Tuesday, thanks in large part to the special teams disparity. They've been out-shot in six of their last seven games and their possession numbers are on a slight, but generally downward trend for the season.

Like against Nashville, the one thing Dallas just cannot do is get into penalty trouble themselves. The Canadiens, through their first game of December, started 25 of 102 on the power play- Good for 24.5%. Even now they boast a top-seven unit in the league.

Stay out of the box.

Their lineup:

Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gionta
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller-Briere
Bournival-Prust-Moen

Bouillon-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Murray-Diaz

That's Douglas Murray, of San Jose Shark fame, btw.

Carey Price or Peter Budaj will be in net.

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