Dallas Stars Snap Losing Streak, Defeat Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at AAC
The Stars now have points in five consecutive home games.
The Dallas Stars snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday night, soundly defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at American Airlines Center.
Wait, they did?
Yes, the team that had surrendered five goals in four consecutive games, using three different goaltenders, put forth a solid defensive effort by virtue of a simple, tried and true formula: Don't let the other team have the puck.
Whether the Canadiens were tired after playing in Chicago last night or not (they entered 4-1 on the second night of back-to-backs...), the Stars took it to them early, building a 1-0 lead and a 9-0 shot advantage - growing to a final margin of 29-17 and a Corsi percentage of 60%-40% in favor of the Stars.
Tyler Seguin's two goals (who else?) would pace Dallas, with Cody Eakin adding a power play goal and Jamie Benn two assists.
The effort went forth with a big push, of all people, from one Ryan Garbutt, who found himself glued to the bench in Detroit Thursday after a penalty his coaching staff didn't like.
Tonight he was drawing them, rather than taking them, putting the Stars on the job twice by his lonesome before the Canadiens had even registered a single shot on Kari Lehtonen. He drew a third in the second by turning the other cheek while Brandon Prust goaded him - a step in the right direction.
His empty-net goal late in the third was icing on the cake, and that made it just the Stars' second three-goal margin of victory this season, the prior being a 6-3 win at home over the Vancouver Canucks in October.
The win evens the Stars home record at 5-5-5, and the once worst-home-team-in-the-league now owns a 4-0-1 streak at American Airlines Center.
The Stars power play laid the foundation for this one with a multi-goal effort (Cody Eakin in the first, Tyler Seguin in the second) but it got on the job thanks to the aforementioned exploits of Garbutt, but more than that, just good old hard work.
"Compete level," Ruff called it before the game. The Stars had it in spades in the early going, and the Canadiens couldn't keep up. The shots added up and led to the man-advantage opportunities.
And Kari Lehtonen, though not needed as often as he's accustomed, was good when he needed to be, allowing the Stars to methodically build a three-goal lead by the second intermission.
The last time the Stars went consecutive periods without allowing a goal? Nearly a month ago at Staples Center in a 2-0 win over the Kings.
The third period came, as it often does, and the Stars did ease off the gas a little, but not much. A broken play led to a goal when Alex Goligoski turned a puck over in the neutral zone, and then Spezza acquired it behind the net but turned it over again, allowing Sven Andrighetto to put Montreal on the board.
Otherwise the shots were 6-6 in the final frame, and the penalty kill kept a clean sheet in killing just two chances for the Canadiens.
Curtis McKenzie was noticeable in the game. Ales Hemsky sat. The coach was reticent about that situation at morning skate, to say the least - so we'll see how it progresses. McKenzie sure does have the energy and the willingness to dig in the hard areas that the Stars need right now, but need it come at the expense of Hemsky? We'll see.
Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin continues to be this team's everything on offense. He's back in the lead league with 21 goals on the year... 21 of the Stars' 79 goals. There are a lot of eggs in that basket.
And oh yeah, he leads the league in scoring with 35 points through 27 games.
Nervous moments in the first period, however, when Trevor Daley took a puck off the ankle and had to be practically carried down the tunnel. He would return, but that one's going to be sore. We'll await word from practice on Monday on his status going forward.
Next the Stars get yet another crack at their first division win when the Jets come to town Tuesday night, fresh off pasting the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 on Friday night.