Carey Price may have had some travel troubles getting out of Columbus after the All-Star weekend, but he didn't have any problems showing up at home on Tuesday. The game started slow, but once it picked up, the Stars were all over the Canadiens, and their All-Star goaltender had to be exactly that, all night.
Alexei Emelin caught a freak bounce to open the scoring, as his intended dump in bounced off the skate of Cody Eakin and somehow found it's way through Kari Lehtonen's five-hole. Alex Galchenyuk later extended the lead to two, taking a Nathan Beaulieu feed, making his way in on a 1-on-2, and finished with an absolutely gorgeous backhander.
Image credit: HockeyStats.ca
The scoreboard at this point might tempt you to think that the Canadiens were playing a great game, when in reality they were being absolutely dominated. Heavily out-shot and out-possessed, they were holding a lead on an extremely lucky bounce, and one great individual effort. In particular, they seemed to struggle greatly in exiting their zone against the Stars' forecheck, a trend which continued most of the night.
If not for an intentional offside call allowing an offensive zone faceoff and a ridiculous shot by Jamie Benn, the Habs could have escaped the period with a two-goal lead. As tempting as it may be to question the call giving the offensive zone draw, it should be noted that the Habs were extremely lucky to be outshot by a near 3/1 margin in the first period and get to the room with a lead.
An early second period powerplay allowed Brendan Gallagher to do some work in his office, banging home a P.K. Subban rebound and restoring the two-goal lead. While Brandon Prust was already serving a minor penalty, Alexei Emelin nailed Jason Spezza with a very dangerous hit, earning himself a major penalty and a game misconduct. Not only would the Habs be short a defenseman for the remainder of the game, they would also have to kill a minute and a half of 5-on-3 before getting just one guy back.
Killing this sort of penalty time requires some good goaltending, and thankfully there's Carey Price. Price was key in getting through the 5-on-3, even getting involved in clearing the zone. But Price can only do so much, as Tyler Seguin was able to weave through the offensive zone and gift one to Patrick Eaves at the tail end of the Emelin major penalty.
That was all the scoring that would be allowed in this game. While both teams would get extended powerplay opportunities, neither could capitalize. The Stars would even get a 5-on-3 chance late in the third, but Price was absolutely phenomenal when called upon. To their credit, I thought the Habs penalty kill looked decent, but they really have to take their hats off for their goaltender on this night.
If not for Carey Price, the game would likely have been out of hand by the end of the second. At that point, the Stars had 32 shots on net. 32 shots is a healthy workload for most goaltenders after an entire game. When you have that many shots against by the end of the second, you're clearly banking way too hard on that goaltender of yours.
How long these types of performances are going to continue to allow for a winning record is hard to tell. The way Carey Price is playing right now, the Habs seem to be able to win any game because they have enough talent to get two or three, then leave it to Price while getting heavily out-shot. Watching Carey Price absolutely rob teams of victories sure is entertaining, but it would be nice to see him get some better support.
This is a game they should probably lose 6-3. Every single Dallas player was over 50% Corsi-for at even strength. I'm not joking, they were that much better. It's only when you follow that link that you'll see exactly how bad the Stars got robbed by Price. Conversely, only Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais managed a 50% or higher even strength shot attempt differential. It was quite the bloodbath from a statistical standpoint.
Dale Weise being on a line with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec is rendering them nearly useless out there. The Fox Stars broadcast talked for a bit about how Dale Weise is a good guy who knows what his role is, but it's a shame that his coach insists on elevating him to one he can't handle. It's definitely not the only thing that needed to be different to fix last night's performance, but it would be a great start.