The Dallas Stars will welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the American Airlines Center today for the one and only meeting this season between the two teams. Dallas is coming off a successful three game road trip, going 2-0-1 and getting five of a possible six points from its California division rivals. Hopefully, returning home to Dallas the Stars can continue the level of play they enjoyed for the most part on the West coast.
The Stars have lost five straight games at home and will look to break the worst home losing streak for the franchise since 1978. With Brad Richards and Toby Petersen out with injury the Stars struggled to score in their absence and the six game homestand ended with a disastrous 4-1 loss against Pittsburgh one week ago. Since then, the Stars have scored 11 goals in three games and Marty Turco has returned to the level of play that helped lead Dallas to a winning record in December and January. If the Stars hope to continue their winning ways they must find a way to start putting more pucks on net. In the last two games the Stars have been outshot 78-39, including being outshot 38-16 on Friday night.
The Montreal Canadiens have had a tumultous season. After being the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season and starting hot again in 2008, many thought the Habs would be representing the East in the Stanley Cup Finals. Yet the Canadiens have been fighting a second half season slump, with coach Guy Carbonneau and G.M. Bob Gainey coming under fire by the Montreal media for their management of the team. Carbonneau has worked to re-establish a team atmosphere in the locker room after reports surfaced of partying and criminal connections that threatened to derail the entire season.
Goaltending has also turned into the Canadiens biggest problem. Carey Price, the goalie the Habs put all the faith in last season at the trade deadline, has struggled since returning from a lower body injury just before the All Star break. In his last 15 games, Price is 2-10-1 with a 3.71 goals-against average, leading Carbonneau to lean on backup Jaroslav Halak. Yet Halak has been sidelined the past two games with the flu and it is uncertain at this point who will be in net tonight for the Canadiens.
Expect an interesting lineup from the Canadiens tonight as Carbonneau will feature brand new line combinations in an effort to spark chemistry and energy up and down the bench. It's a move that has not proven popular among the Montreal media and it will be interesting to see how the team reacts after the shakeup. With Montreal just 2-11-1 in their last 14 road games the Stars have a prime opportunity to snap their home losing streak against a down and out hockey team.
Dallas: RW Jere Lehtinen (upper body) is day-to-day. C Toby Petersen (foot), C Brad Richards (wrist), LW Brenden Morrow (knee) and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out.
Montreal: G Jaroslav Halak (flu-like symptoms) is probable. C Robert Lang (Achilles heel), LW Guillaume Latendresse (shoulder), D Francis Bouillon (groin) and LW Georges Laraque (back) are out.