The Canadiens were looking to win their fourth straight game when they closed out their road trip in Dallas on Saturday night. There were no changes made to the lineup from their victory in Vegas and Carey Price got the start in goal. Unforunately, the Habs could not get any offence generated in this one, and ended up on the wrong side of a 4-1 score.
Montreal had an electrifying start to the game. For the first four minutes, they wouldn’t let the Stars leave their zone. Eventually, Dallas was called for a cross-check, sending the Habs to the first power play. The advantage only lasted fifty seconds, until Joel Armia was called for interference to even things out.
The Habs had another power play opportunity at the midway point of the period. However, Dallas took advantage of some disorganization at centre ice from the Habs and kept firing the puck back down before the Habs could even gain the zone.
The period continued with back and forth action; there was no real advantage in the game for either team. Dallas got their first full power play with four minutes to go when Ben Chiarot was called for cross-checking and Alexander Radulov scored right off the faceoff to take an early 1-0 lead.
Shortly after, the Habs got a late power play opportunity. It was another very disappointing man advantage. Montreal could not string any passes together and could not get any offensive zone time. With the number of penalties already called in the game, the power play needed to improve to help give the Canadiens a chance to win this game.
The game opened up a lot more in the second period. The Habs picked up their speed but Dallas matched them step for step. There were odd-man rushes and breakaways going both ways but neither team was able to convert. Price and Ben Bishop both looked solid in their respective nets.
With six minutes to go in the second, Max Domi had a burst of speed at centre and forced John Klingberg to hook him and send the Habs back to the man advantage. The Canadiens had much better chemistry and offensive zone time on this one. There were some chances but they could not find the back of the net.
Late in the second period, Denis Gurianov was in on a breakaway and was given a penalty shot on a weak slashing call. He converted on the penalty shot through the five-hole of Price and gave Dallas a two-goal lead into the third period.
Early in the third, Mike Reilly got taken down behind his own net and the Habs had another man advantage. It was another poor effort on the power play and another opportunity was wasted. This sent Montreal’s power play to 0-5 on the night.
Halfway through the third period Dallas was given another power play when Jordan Weal was called for tripping. They managed to kill off the first minute but Gurianov picked up his second goal of the night shortly after that.
For most of the third period the Habs did not generate anything. They could not seem to get any passes together. When they got into the zone, they did not challenge Bishop at all. Any shots that did get through were easy to see, and there was no traffic in front. Claude Julien pulled Price with more than five minutes to go in an effort to get something going. Unfortunately, Dallas almost immediately put it into the empty net when Radek Faksa won a defensive zone draw to Miro Heiskanen who fired it in from his own end.
Shortly after the goal, Artturi Lehkonen finally put one into the net on a pass from Nick Suzuki. Price was then pulled again to see if the Habs could continue coming back. However, Jeff Petry was called for interference with a little over two minutes left, ending any chance at a comeback.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Mike Reilly
Despite the Habs not playing well, I thought that Reilly looked good tonight. He made some smart decisions with the puck and did not try to do too much. He also looked good in his own zone for most of the night.
Stats: 1 SOG, 16:02 TOI
Second Star – Nick Suzuki
Suzuki showed again tonight that he is more than capable of playing centre at the NHL level. He made a couple goal-saving plays in the defensive zone. He also made some good passes to his teammates on offence, including the lone goal of the game.
Stats: 1A, +1, 14:38 TOI
Third Star – Carey Price
Despite conceding three goals, Price still looked good tonight. There were a lot of breakaways and odd-man rushes against him and the score could have gotten a lot worse.
Stats: 36 saves on 39 shots, 3.12 GAA, .923 SV%
Honourable Mention- Artturi Lehkonen
Lehkonen finally ended his lengthy goal drought with a nice shot late in the third period. Hopefully for Lehkonen, that shot can give him the confidence to start burying his chances on a more consistent basis.
Stats: 1G, +1, 2 SOG, 13:01 TOI