Sure, they didn't get the two points, but long-term, that's probably better anyway. They also didn't get to see their newly-minted top line in action for long either, as Brendan Gallagher's night ended early. Perhaps least fortunate of all, they didn't get to see much of two of the players they have the most to learn about, as Morgan Ellis and Stefan Matteau saw their ice time heavily restricted.
The loss was at least entertaining though, and it did bring about some signs of positive change. Greg Pateryn played over 21 minutes to some excellent results. Centreman Alex Galchenyuk got his team's only goals. Sven Andrighetto filled in admirably following Gallagher's injury. Mike McCarron continued to look promising.
Playing one of the league's best squads, which is in the midst of a contentious playoff race, and having lost badly to that same group earlier this season, the Habs' chances look pretty dire this evening.
If they can keep getting good results from their up-and-comers, and keep their focus on process over results, they can keep their momentum rolling this evening.
How to Watch
Tale of the Tape
|52.3||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||53.5|
|0.95||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.03|
Know Your Enemy
Like the Anaheim Ducks game last week, the Habs likely won't have to worry about keeping the contest entertaining. Facing a squad second in the entire NHL in even strength scoring, the Stars will ensure that the pace stays up.
The Stars get much of their scoring from dynamic duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, each of whom is in the top-3 in league scoring after Saturday's games. Those two account for about 25% of their team's even strength offence, but Dallas has a few other heavy hitters, as well.
Jason Spezza has been productive while centring the second line, while running mates Patrick Sharp and Mattias Janmark-Nylen are also putting up big numbers. The Stars will need those players to continue to find ways to score, because they may be without their best playmaker.
Defender John Klingberg left Friday night's game against the New Jersey Devils, and missed Sunday's contest with the Ottawa Senators. If he can't go tonight, the Dallas "D" corps takes on an entirely different complexion. The skillful 23-year-old has been on the ice for just under half of Dallas 134 even strength goals, more than any of his teammates. If some combination of Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth take his place, the Habs should have a much easier time keeping the play flowing toward Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi.
Last Time Out
When these two teams last met, just before Christmas, containing Dallas' offence proved a task taller than the behemoth Oleksiak.
As was their custom while slumping through December, the Canadiens played a strong first period, only to head to the dressing room down a goal. Spezza put his team on the board, freezing Mike Condon with a fake before depositing a shot behind him.
Early in the second period, Benn would double that lead when a pass bounced to him in the slot. The Habs seemed to lose interest from there, perhaps in a simple observation of the mathematical impossibility of scoring three or more goals. Thankfully, the timing was good: while the Tricolore were surely curious about how they would ever generate some offence, the Stars put on a clinic.
Dallas would score four more times, including three power-play goals, two of which earned when the Habs cleared the puck over the glass in their own zone. Daniel Carr and Paul Byron would pot a couple before the night was through, but for the 10th straight game, Montreal would fail to crack three goals. They would close the month having done so only once in 14 attempts.
Facing a Klingberg-less Stars team would greatly improve Montreal's chances of victory, but even without their silky-smooth Swede, the Stars are still contenders to win the Western Conference.
For the Canadiens though, putting another loss in the standings is inconsequential. If the team can avoid falling apart like they did last time, and can accomplish that with their young players in substantial roles, tonight's contest will have been a success.