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Penalty Trouble and Antti Niemi Steal the Show in 4-2 Win for Montreal

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A back-and-forth game in Montreal quickly turned into a loss for Dallas as the Stars fall for the second-straight game on this road trip.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game featured the Benn brothers reunited once more and the return of former Montreal CanadiensAlexander Radulov and Greg Pateryn to Bell Centre. No shortage of storylines were present for this matchup as the Dallas Stars took on the Montreal Canadiens to continue the second of a six in this road trip. The Stars badly needed a win in this one to continue atop the close wild-card race in the West Conference.

Dallas started the game not exactly as planned, as the Stars gave up three outnumbered rushes in just the first two minutes of play. It was a very physical first period with lots of back-and-forth play as Radulov was able to catch Jordie Benn off-guard and lay the hit, which dumped the older Benn brother to the ice.

It was the former Canadien, Greg Pateryn, that made a play to open up the scoring in Montreal. Pateryn found himself with plenty of open ice in front of him when he got the puck off a pass from Tyler Pitlick, and ripped one on Antti Niemi. Radek Faksa fought his way to the middle and screened Niemi to get the tip-in for Dallas to take the 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, with 3:29 left in the opening frame it was the Canadiens, courtesy of Artturi Lehkonen, who took in the pass from Alex Galchenyuk and was able to break down the left side of the defense. He fired a quick, rising shot past Kari Lehtonen. Montreal tied the game up at 1-1 and it would stay tied up as they headed into the second period of play.

Penalty trouble wasn’t an issue for either team until the second period, when special teams suddenly became a huge factor in the game - and a big problem for the Stars. The first penalty of the game went to Dan Hamhuis with four minutes for high sticking. The Canadiens were able to quickly capitalize on the penalty to take the 2-1 lead and Lehkonen recorded his second goal of the night.

Faksa then received a call for tripping and the Stars had to kill a 5-on-3. After not having given up a 5-on-3 goal all season, Dallas let up the first as the Canadiens scored immediately on the two-man advantage and extended their lead to 3-1. Dallas killed off the rest of the penalty and went back to even strength for a rather brief time. Scott Burnside tweeted it best to sum up the second:

Luckily for the Stars, they were able to kill this one off and go back to the 5-on-5 to try to get back into a game that was quickly getting away from them.

Later into the middle frame, Brett Ritchie dropped Noah Juulsen into the boards from behind. Karl Alzner of the Canadiens ran in for his teammate and tried to instigate a fight, which earned him two minutes for roughing. So Dallas went on the power play and it would take them 11 seconds to cut down the lead 3-2. Jamie Benn helped the Stars to get the game back to manageable and grabbed the momentum as they headed into the final period.

Many didn’t think this game could become more of a physical, hard-hitting game than it already was, but then the third period started and it was as if all hell had indeed broken loose on the ice. The young gun Jason Dickinson, obviously frustrated, got into a scrap with Nicholas Deslauriers a little over 12 minutes to go in the final period. This was Dickinson’s first NHL fight, and somehow he avoided the penalty for instigation as well.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

More of the physicality would continue as Greg Pateryn took out Andrew Shaw, who headed back to the locker room after the collision with the boards. Pateryn took a roughing minor and Montreal scored immediately on the power play to extend the lead back to two goals, 4-2.

A string of Montreal penalties gave Dallas a 5-on-3 with a little over a minute to go in the final frame. With Lehtonen on the bench for the extra attacker, the Stars overloaded to try to rally back. Yet even with the three-man advantage, Niemi denied any opportunities the Stars generated, and the Canadiens took the game 4-2. Dallas has now dropped their second of six in this current road trip and will look for a win tomorrow against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drops against Toronto tomorrow at 6 p.m. CST.