The Dallas Stars allowed the Senators a single goal in Ottawa Sunday after granting the New Jersey Devils just two on home ice the Friday before. Three goals against in their last six periods of play and four points to show for it.
That's an encouraging sign for a team that had allowed 33 total goals against in their previous seven outings- A staggering 4.71 against per in that time.
Penalty killing was a big part of that Sunday afternoon in Ottawa as the Stars had to defend against two early man advantages that threatened to give the Sens all the momentum in the opening moments.
Kari Lehtonen did the rest and has two wins in a row as Lindy Ruff looks for one of his goaltenders to take a clear lead going into a potential playoff match-up.
Between the penalty kill and the goaltending- That side of the puck has to continue to show strongly, because the other is most decidedly not.
Dallas managed just a pair of goals themselves Sunday and have been held to 25 shots in consecutive games- And Patrick Sharp, John Klingberg and Patrick Eaves are all on the shelf, making it a tough climb in the offensive zone.
More than any of that, however, it's been the play of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin that has Stars fans singing the Blues these days as the two have combined to score just a single goal over the team's last six games.
Worse than that still- They're a combined -18 in that span.
On a team without their best defenseman and puck advancer in John Klingberg, and on a team who's not sure where it's best goaltending is going to come from night in and night out, that's a scary proposition. The Stars can only go as far as those two take them.
Tonight they continue to try breaking out of that funk, but must do so in one of the most difficult places to play in the world as the team takes on the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens present a scary mirror of sorts in which to peer- It's a peek at what could be for the Dallas Stars if they don't get their act together.
Montreal started hot this season. Incredibly so, mirroring the Stars in the East going 19-4-3 through December 1st. When these two met in late December it figured to be a clash of heavyweights and a validation of what the Stars had done so far.
Three months later and it looks like the Stars happened to catch them at the beginning of a horrific tail-spin that's seen them drop out of the playoff hunt altogether in a stunning turn of events.
They lost Carey Price to a lower body injury three months ago and have not looked the same since, but the local media says it's their inability to score as much as anything else that's made them this bad-
The Canadiens flew home from Winnipeg immediately after the loss to the Jets, arriving in Montreal around 2 a.m. after going winless on their four-game road trip (0-3-1) with stops in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Winnipeg.
The Canadiens scored two goals in all four games â and as coach Michel Therrien is fond of saying, a team needs to score at least three goals to win in today's NHL.
The Canadiens scored at least three goals in each of their first nine games this season while getting off to a franchise-record 9-0 start. In the 57 games since, they have scored three or more goals 23 times while going 21-30-6.
The eventual return of goalie Carey Price won't fix that problem. [Montreal Gazette]
And see this note as well-
The Canadiens had nine rookies in the lineup Saturday night (defenceman Morgan Ellis was returned to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Sunday) and Therrien said after the game that he is now "looking much more at the evaluation than the result." In other words, wait till next year â and don't be shocked if Therrien is back behind the bench then.[Montreal Gazette]
So that's a mess. But how have the Stars fared against the dregs of the conferences this year? Exactly.
De La Rose-McCarron-Byron
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens meet on Tuesday night at Bell Centre in Montreal for the second and final meeting of the 2015-16 regular season. Dallas will look to snap a two-game losing streak (0-2-0) on the road to the Canadiens. In the first meeting of the 2015-16 campaign, the Stars defeated the Canadiens, 6-2, on Dec. 19 at American Airlines Center. Four Stars skaters recorded multi-point games, including Stars captain Jamie Benn (2-1=3), forward Jason Spezza (1-2=3), forward Tyler Seguin (1-1=2) and forward Patrick Sharp (1-1=2). Stars goaltender Antti Niemi registered the victory for Dallas, stopping 21-of-23 shots faced on the evening. In the lone game played last season against the Canadiens in Montreal, the Canadiens defeated the Stars, 3-2, on Jan. 27, 2015. Jamie Benn (1-1=2) and forward Patrick Eaves (1-0=1) tallied the goals for Dallas on the evening.
THE GOOSE IS ON THE LOOSE
Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski recorded an assist (0-1=1) on Sunday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators and now has points in four-straight games (0-5=5). His four-game point streak is his longest point streak since he recorded points in five-straight games (3-3=6) from March 3 - March 11, 2014. Among all team skaters, he leads the club with 23:46 average time on ice and shares second with a +12 plus/minus rating. The native of Grand Rapids, Minn. is second on the team with 118 blocked shots and fifth with 81 hits. Goligoski has points in three of his last four games (0-3=3) against Montreal, registering an assist (0-1=1) in the first game of the season on Dec. 19. In 14 career NHL games against the Canadiens, he has posted 11 points (3-8=11).