How to watch
A little more than a day after getting handled by the second-worst team in the NHL, there weren’t high expectations for a better performance from the Montreal Canadiens as they moved on to play the Dallas Stars.
There’s no question that the Stars were the better team in the game, in full control of the possession and shots on goal, but the Canadiens were able to take advantage of the chances they got, and Samuel Montembeault, using the exceptional lateral movement that can sometimes get him into trouble, made some amazing saves on cross-crease passes to deny prime scoring opportunities. With those stops and a bit of luck from his posts, he expended every ounce of energy he had to steal the two points.
Fortunately (for anyone hoping to finish last in the standings at least) the loss in Arizona the day before had given them a three-point cushion to absorb such a result. Now, thanks to another win for Arizona last night in which they had just 17 shots but scored four goals, the Canadiens have the wiggle room to put another win on the board in Nevada.
Tale of the Tape
|46.1% (25th)||Scoring-chances-for %||50.6% (16th)|
|2.16 (32nd)||Goals per game||3.45 (6th)|
|3.66 (32nd)||Goals against per game||3.03 (18th)|
|12.2% (32nd)||PP%||20.6% (13th)|
|74.6% (27th)||PK%||77.8% (24th)|
Tyler Toffoli was a prominent figure in Tuesday’s game (his first since December 4), especially on special teams, which is no surprise given how he has performed so far in his Canadiens tenure. He had nine special-teams goals in 2020-21, and now half of his markers this season have come at uneven strengths after adding a short-handed goal to his tally.
Christian Dvorak was also a key contributor with two goals in the game, including one on which he and Toffoli connected on a goal-line passing passing play on the man advantage. It was his first multi-goal game with his new team, and also brought his first game-winner, placing him among just four other members of the team with deciding markers.
They could add even more offence in those special-teams situations tonight, because, despite Vegas’s standing as the leader of the Pacific Division, its penalty kill ranks 24th in the league at 77.8%.
Of course, it was also true that the Golden Knights travelled to Montreal with a power play operating at 0% in early November and scored two goals in that situation on their way to a win, so that lowly effectiveness of the penalty kill may not mean much in this matchup. That would be welcome news for the Habs and their 27th-ranked penalty kill if past performance can be thrown out the window.
Max Pacioretty wasn’t around for that first game of the season series, nor will he be playing tonight, out indefinitely following wrist surgery in late December. Based on his medical history from his time in Montreal, he will probably be back in the Vegas lineup sooner than a lot of people expect, but his chance to play the team that eliminated him from the playoffs a year ago will have to wait until next season.
The Habs’ former captain was having a great campaign while he was active, posting 12 goals in 15 games, but the offensive duties now fall to other members of the team. The slack has been picked up by Jonathan Marchessault, who has produced steadily with the expansion franchise over the past five years. The Canadiens do catch him on a cold streak with no points in his last four games, so perhaps they can pilfer another two points from some sleeping Knights for their first back-to-back wins of the season.