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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
There was a lot of hype and excitement as the Habs kicked off their preseason on Tuesday night. The game didn't get off to the best of starts for the home squad though as Montreal quickly trailed 3-0 before the first was over. A second period comeback got them back in it for a bit but in the end, the Stars prevailed 6-3.
Brendan Morrow got things going for Dallas barely three minutes in as he tapped home one into a wide open net. Adam Pardy tallied another on the powerplay while former Hab Michael Ryder also scored before the midway point of the opening stanza. Fortunately, the Canadiens came out more motivated for the second.
Newcomer Erik Cole sniped Montreal's first goal of the preseason before the six minute mark of the period. That's the good news. The bad news is that Kris Barch had scored beforehand. Cole's goal energized the Habs though as they took control of the play for the next several minutes. Andrei Kostitsyn wristed one by Andrew Raycroft while on the next shift, former Star Jeff Woywitka slapped home a pass from Andreas Engqvist to make it 4-3. At that time, the goalies changed and with that went the momentum. Mike Ribeiro tipped one home past new goalie Nathan Lawson with the man advantage to give Dallas a two goal lead heading into the 3rd.
The final period was uneventful for the most part. Matt Fraser scored with less than two minutes to go to end any hope of a late comeback. Carey Price gets saddled with the loss in his preseason debut as he turned 9 of 13 Dallas shots while Andrew Raycroft (8/11) picks up the win. The Habs were 1/4 with the man advantage while the Stars were a perfect 2/2.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Andrei Kostitsyn (1 goal, even rating, 3 shots, 19:11 TOI)
Kostitsyn was quiet in the first period but really stepped it up after. His work in the second led to the Habs getting back into the game. What impressed me most though was how much he wanted the puck on his stick. Instead of deferring as he often does, he wanted to be 'the guy.' I hope this new side of Kostitsyn continues into the season.
2nd Star: Erik Cole (1 goal, -1 rating, 1 shot, 20:23 TOI)
Cole was the most effective of the Habs' top trio that also included Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri. He crashed and banged along the boards, got to the net, and of course had one real nice wrister to get them on the board. There was nothing flashy to his game, he just played well. I suspect we'll be saying that a lot this year.
3rd Star: Yannick Weber (1 assist, +1 rating, 25:54 TOI)
If you want to read anything into preseason ice time, it should be noted that Weber played the most of anyone in this one. He started off shaky but got better as the game went along, particularly in his own end. Offensively, he passed the puck well but didn't get any shots off. All in all, he handed the extra ice time well.
Honourable Mention: Nathan Lawson (10 saves on 12 shots, 29:38 TOI)
After the goalie switch, the Habs' momentum seemed to go away. Lawson did well to stop the Stars from pulling away early with a couple of key saves. Although he allowed a couple of goals, he had a steady outing.
- For all of the hype surrounding Alexei Yemelin, he had a very quiet game. After running around hitting anything that moved in the scrimmages, I can't help but wonder if he had a bit of a talking to by the coaches. Finding that right balance will be crucial for him.
- On the other hand, Raphael Diaz was quiet but solid. I was most impressed with his passing, nearly every pass landed right on the stick. He panicked a little under pressure but there were lots of positives from the Swiss rookie.
- Going into the game, I knew putting Brian Willsie at C wasn't going to work. I wonder now if the coaching staff realizes this too after seeing him get beat clean on several faceoffs. Seeing is believing, I suppose.
The Habs will get right back at it on Wednesday night as they host the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM EST.
- NHL Statsheet