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Canadiens vs Stars game recap: Alex Galchenyuk is the centre of attraction

Galchenyuk's three-point outing led the Canadiens to victory over the Stars.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens limped into this match, icing an injury-depleted squad against the slumping Dallas Stars. The last time these two clubs met, the Stars had no trouble blowing out the Habs by a score of 6-2. This time around, the Canadiens pulled out a hard-fought 4-3 victory in overtime.

20160308 SA Corsi
Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

The Canadiens applied pressure early on, but a quick goal by Cody Eakin gave the Stars the lead. The early deficit took the wind out of Montreal's sails, allowing Dallas to pepper Ben Scrivens with a flurry of shots. The Professor withstood the barrage, allowing his team to regroup and mount a comeback of their own.

The Habs hit a few posts on their first few chances, but the captain finally put the Canadiens on the board with 5:37 left in the period. Max Pacioretty had no trouble deflecting Andrei Markov's point shot past Kari Lehtonen, tying the game at one apiece.

Unfortunately for the Canadiens, they immediately followed this up with two quick penalties.

While Montreal successfully killed off Sven Andrighetto's holding penalty, the Stars made the Canadiens pay on the minor Pacioretty was serving for holding-the-stick. Jason Spezza was given both time and space, and he made good use of both to put one right over Scrivens' shoulder. Spezza's power play marker restored Dallas' lead, 17 seconds into the second.

Alex Galchenyuk responded for the Canadiens a mere 36 seconds later, capitalizing on a great falling pass from Andrighetto to snipe one past Lehtonen to tie the game at two.

Not to be outdone, Phillip Danault gave the Habs their first lead of the game three minutes later, when he tapped in a fortuitous rebound. It was his first goal with the team after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dallas nearly responded by springing Valeri Nichushkin all alone on a breakaway, but Alexei Emelin pulled off a brilliant defensive play to prevent him from taking a shot, while not drawing a penalty in the process.

Despite that heroic defensive effort, the Stars would end up tying the game at three with a minute left in the period, as Ales Hemsky pulled off a successful wraparound attempt to fool Scrivens. Overall, it was a rough period for the Habs' goalie, who not only gave up two goals, but needed some repairs on an injured finger as well.

While the Canadiens made headway in closing the shot gap in the second, Dallas started pulling away again halfway through the third. Montreal was momentarily on the man advantage when Johnny Oduya was penalized for hooking, but the power play was negated just 30 seconds in when Galchenyuk was flagged for a hooking minor of his own.

Neither team was able to score in four-on-four play, but the Stars were able to get a couple of clean shots on net which Scrivens did well to kept out.

Both Montreal and Dallas exchanged some later chances (the Stars a bit more so than the Habs) but the period would end at a deadlock and send the game to overtime.

In overtime, it was clear that Galchenyuk was gunning for the winning goal. After his first shot destroyed Stars' defenseman Kris Russell's stick, the centreman's second shot off a pass from Markov blasted by Lehtonen to give Montreal the win.

Thoughts

  • Alex Galchenyuk is — and should continue to be — Montreal's number-one centre. Despite claims that a lack of chemistry may have kept Max Pacioretty and Galchenyuk from playing together sooner, the duo combined to put up five points in this game alone. In fact, since he was shifted back to centre, Galchenyuk now has four goals over that (admittedly short) timespan. The sky's the limit for this rising star.
  • What more needs to be said about Montreal's atrocious power play that hasn't already been said? The Canadiens failed to score a single goal on the man advantage during the game, and have only managed to score two power-play goals on their last twenty-seven opportunities in their last 10 games (which is a paltry 7.4% conversion rate).
  • The defensive pairing of Victor Bartley and Mark Barberio was an unmitigated disaster. The Stars controlled over 70% of even-strength shot attempts while this duo was on the ice.
  • Make of this quote, what you will.