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Canadiens vs Stars: Game preview, start time, and TV schedule

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The Habs hope to break out of their slump as they begin a difficult road trip.

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The Canadiens kick off a lengthy road trip tonight, playing the first game of which at the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, where they'll take on the Stars.

With another frustrating loss fresh in memory, the Habs will be hoping some time away from home ice will afford them an opportunity for a reset. Meanwhile, the Stars can't seemingly do much wrong.

Dallas stands alone at the top of the Western Conference, and is only behind the Washington Capitals based on games played for first in the entire NHL. This, of course, makes for another difficult opponent for the Habs - at a time when they seem to need the most favourable match-ups possible.

Still, the issue lately has not been the Habs play, but a lack of scoring despite their play. For the Canadiens to finally turn things around and start the road trip off on the right foot, they'll need to keep that high level of play up and, finally, get some bounces to go their way. Very little separates these teams statistically, and it should make for quite an interesting match-up.

How to Watch

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In Canada: Hockey Night in Canada, TVA
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Stars
20-10-3 Record 23-7-2
3-6-1 L10 Record 6-2-2
53.9 Score-Adjusted Corsi % 53.8
101 Goals For 108
76 Goals Against 83
1.21 5v5 Goal Ratio 1.15
19.5 PP% 21.6
86.9 PK% 79.6

Know Your Enemy

When you look at the Dallas Stars lineup, it comes as no surprise that the team has been fighting for a top spot in the league all season long. The Stars have an abundance of depth with quality players throughout their roster, especially up front.

The staple of the Dallas Stars throughout the year has been their potent offense, led by two of the elite scorers in the entire league. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have 42 and 41 points respectively, pushing them well above point-per-game pace. Patrick Sharp rounds out the Stars' first line with an impressive 22 points in his own right.

The Stars' first line has also put up strong possession numbers, but this is the spot where their second line really shines. Not many clubs can boast a second line centre as talented as Jason Spezza, who comes with a CF% of 57.91. Spezza regularly plays with a number of linemates, one of which is 22-year-old Mattias Janmark-Nylen, the only player on the Stars with an even better CF% than Spezza, at 58.11.

Another area from which the Stars generate a great deal of offense, however, is from their blue-line. Sophomore defenseman John Klingberg has been a revelation in Dallas over the past season and a half, having been a contender for the Calder Trophy last year and showing this year that his performance was no fluke. With 31 points in 32 games, Klingberg trails only Erik Karlsson for points among defensemen.

If there is a weak point on this Stars roster, it stems from their goaltenders. It isn't easy to complain about any aspect of a team who is tied for tops in the league, but any team hoping to topple the Stars would do so by taking advantage of their goaltending situation. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen are each certainly talented enough to get it done on any given night, but with respective save percentages of .909 and .915, they have by no mean been world beaters thus far.

Last Time Out

It has been nearly a year since the last time these teams met, dating back to January 28th. That game was a win for the Canadiens, though it came in a fashion not uncommon for the team last season.

Outshot by a margin of 42-26, the Habs had to rely once again on Carey Price, who was able to get the job done - turning aside 40 shots for ensure a 3-2 victory.

Alexei Emelin and Alex Galchenyuk got things started for the Habs in that game, each scoring in the opening period to establish a 2-0 lead early in the game. While Jamie Benn would score with only seconds left in the frame, their lead would not be cut for long.

Brendan Gallagher's power play goal in the second period would prove to be the game-winner, as the Habs would concede just once more in the game.

These are the types of performances that are, thankfully, becoming increasingly rare for the Habs. The 2015-16 edition of the Canadiens have proven capable of controlling possession against even some of the best teams in the league. What the team could really use tonight is for some bounces to go their way, the same way they did the last time they faced the Stars. If they can finally snap their scoring drought, things may bode well for the Habs. That, of course, is a fairly big if.