The Dallas Stars started their Eastern Canada trip with a bang on Thursday night. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa broke their goal-scoring slumps, Jason Robertson assisted on a game-winner in his NHL debut, and Andrew Cogliano and Roman Polak got to win their 1,000th and 800th games, in regulation, in front of their former hometown crowds.
So what do they do for an encore? We’ll find out tonight. The Stars – currently just three points out of first place in the Central Division – are taking a three-game winning streak into Bell Centre as they try to sweep the season series against the Montreal Canadiens.
The biggest headline from Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs had to have been the power-play game-winner from Tyler Seguin. Has the dam broken for the Stars’ points leader? Expect him to loosen up now that he’s put that goal-less streak behind him.
How will Rick Bowness deploy Jason Robertson after a great debut? He practiced on the fourth line this morning with Mattias Janmark and Joe Pavelski, who is officially a game-time decision but appears to be drawing into the lineup tonight. Robertson could have momentum on his side after his Thursday performance, and it will be interesting to see if he gets more minutes on special teams.
Radek Faksa got his scoring mojo back in Toronto, too. Hopefully this means more third-line goal-getting going forward. The Stars will need all they can net to close their case for postseason action.
Meanwhile, there seems to be no stopping Denis Gurianov – literally. He scored twice against the Habs in American Airlines Center. Will he do it again for emphasis?
I’ll just leave this here.
Denis Gurianov scored his 17th goal of 2019-20. Only two rookies in Dallas Stars team history have tallied more in a single season: Jamie Benn (19 in 2009-10) and James Neal (24 in 2008-09).#GoStars pic.twitter.com/Y7xbQQcvFD— The NHL Tracker (@thenhltracker) February 14, 2020
Shea Weber jokes aside, the Canadiens have a decent stock of high-end (if perhaps not superstar-level) talent who are in or near their prime and probably should have done better than they have this season. As it is, they’re three points out of a wild-card spot after having played more games (60) than any other team in the Atlantic Division. They are also more or less officially in tank mode.
On top of that, they’re languishing in a three-game losing streak that they’re looking to break at home. If all of this makes your Victory Green antennae stand at attention, Admiral Ackbar has a few words for you:
Tomas Tatar is scoring at a .883 point-per-game pace, and the Stars will do well to keep him in check. Phillip Danault is not far behind him in points-getting, but he’s playing with a face shield after taking friendly fire from linemate Tatar during Monday’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki and Max Domi are lagging among the Habs’ top scorers, but it’s interesting to note that they’re still outperforming the Stars’ top six point-getters.
The Habs are without one of their two top-scoring defenders in – wait for it! – Shea Weber, who’s out for the next few weeks with an ankle sprain he incurred during a February 6 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. But fellow D Jeff Petry is doing even better and is always dangerous.
Current Star and former Hab Alexander Radulov is still on injured reserve, so the hate level will suffer. It may be for the best.
Here’s how the Stars lined up this morning:
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Corey Perry
Jamie Benn - Jason Dickinson - Denis Gurianov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Joe Pavelski - Jason Robertson
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Andrej Sekera
Scratched: Taylor Fedun (conditioning assignment)
Likely scratches: Joel Kiviranta, Roman Polak
IR: Justin Dowling (lower body), Alexander Radulov (upper body)
The Habs skipped morning skate, but here’s how the home roster looked at their last game:
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Ilya Kovalchuk - Nick Suzuki - Joel Armia
Jonathan Drouin - Max Domi - Artturi Lehkonen
Nick Cousins - Jake Evans - Dale Weise
Paul Byron - Jordan Weal
Ben Chiarot - Victor Mete
Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry
Marco Scandella - Xavier Ouellet
Possible scratch: Nate Thompson (illness)
IR: Joel Teasdale (knee), Shea Weber (ankle)
Puck drop: 6 p.m. CST (Bell Centre, Montréal, QC)
TV: TVAS, FS-SW
Radio: KTCK 1310 AM / 96.7 FM The Ticket
Online: FOX Sports Go app / theticket.com