And now they've lost twice to a mediocre team in the league's weaker-sister Eastern Conference.
A 5-0-2 streak was fun, and put the Stars nearer the playoff conversation than they've been all season long, but the reality of those facts puts it into perspective. They're not going to win them all, even the ones they should on paper, and there's a lot of improvement for which to be fought.
The stumbles tonight included that help on defense from the forwards which has been so nice. They included the defensemen themselves, certainly, as PK Subban danced through them and around them with repeated ease. They included Kari Lehtonen, who didn't face a ton of work, but it was of high quality. The Stars needed the big save to bail them out tonight and for a change they didn't get it.
Two fights, a penalty shot, several highlight reel goals- It was an entertaining contest to be sure, but in the end the only real entertainment are those points in the piggy bank.
The Stars had the chances in the first, and control of the game, to make it tough on the Habs but the puck luck wasn't there all night, even in netting four.
In the end it was the individual exploits of one Mr. PK Subban, distributing and scoring, that were too much to overcome. Tyler Seguin tried hard to match but it wasn't enough. Montreal had enough speed to match Dallas' and even exceed it at times, taking away their self-identified advantage.
Detroit is next up on Saturday.
Dallas opened the scoring six minutes in when a fabulous cross-ice pass from Tyler Seguin found Jamie Benn at the left circle as beat Price for the 1-0 lead.
The Stars then put on a passing clinic on a power play and came close to extending their lead several times, but it was OK because they were in control of the game. Or was it?
Out-shooting the Canadiens 6-3 and out-chancing them by quite a bit more, the Stars defense believed the forwards were in complete control of the puck crossin the offensive blue line and relaxed their coverage, or else confused it. A turnover and a quick pass sent Max Pacioretty in alone on Kari Lehtonen and a game the Stars were having fun with was tied.
The Stars continued to dominate play but saw no fruits of their efforts, ending the period on Valeri Nichushkin's holding penalty, out-shooting Montreal 11-6 in the frame.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin both were completely abused 90 seconds into the first when Subban went around them and centered the puck to David Desharnais, who beat Lehtonen to give the Canadiens the go-ahead goal after Dallas had so completely outplayed them in the first.
Disturbing things continued as the Stars composure unraveled and turnovers plagued the proceedings. Two fights and another near one (roughing for Erik Cole) aided Montreal in disjoininting the game.
Val Nichushkin took it back, briefly, when a solo effort netted him a penalty shot and a beauty of a goal, but the overall team play continued to lack intensity and responsibility as the Stars watched Subban waft through the slot, again, this time beating Lehtonen himself.
Another dangerous, though fruitless, Dallas Stars power play was a nice break, but the Canadiens went back to threatening immediately following, and then Vern Fiddler put his team down a man because of after-whistle exploits.
They survived that, and another furious scramble in their own zone to end the period as Jordie Benn and Aaron Rome were caught chasing again.
A Cody Eakin high-sticking penalty put the Stars' comeback hopes quickly to bed, and a shot from distance bounced off the end boards in a way Kari Lehtonen did not anticipate- Then was promptly put behind him to put the game out of reach.
Montreal was 19-0-3 when leading after two coming into this one.
The Stars almost erased that goose egg in the middle. Almost. First it was Tyler Seguin with an outrageous solo effort to cut it 4-3, then Brenden Dillon with a one-timer from somewhere in the vicinity of the DFW Airport to tie things at four, and just like that the building was rocking.
And then just like that Montreal scored again to make it 5-4, and Kair Lehtonen was officially not having a very great night, though surely the shots and chances against were of considerable quality.
Dallas had their chances to tie, but they weren't of the dangerous variety, and Price had an easy time of it thanks to those in front of him.
Jamie Benn dumped the puck in the zone with just over a minute left, and paid for it when the puck went into the empty net behind him seconds later.
-13,000~ attendance. So... that's not very good.
-The Canadiens, repeatedly and seemingly at will, were allowed to maneuver into the slot and get on the forehand. Twice in burned them. If it's something other teams can identify on film...
-Kari Lehtonen made some great saves. Great saves. He also was swimming a bit, and on the fifth goal let a puck get over his 6'4" shoulder, plus skates, and under a 4' cross-bar. He can't be that small there. So do you start Ellis to give Kari some time off on Saturday, or do you let him come back and fight?
-Another penalty shot? They're on pace for some records.
-It's one of those nights where the stats don't match what happened in a single 60 minute sitting. The Stars had the puck. They were shooting it more. But the quality of the chances was not the same.
-Alex Goligoski has been fabulous since all of the injuries hobbled the defense. He's been really, really good. Solid in expanded minutes against the best in the West. He had a bad game tonight and the universe jumped all over his back. A little perspective, maybe...
-At least Columbus is up 2-0 on Phoenix late (he said, hoping he didn't jinx it...)