The Dallas Stars have inserted themselves into the race for the top spot in the Central Division after winning three in a row and collecting at least a point in six of their past seven games (5-1-1).
The Stars aim to continue their ascent on Saturday when they face off against the Montreal Canadiens in the second contest of their three-game road trip.
Tyler Seguin snapped a career-high, 17-game goal drought in Dallas’ 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. The goal was Seguin’s 12th of the season and first since Dec. 28 against the Colorado Avalanche.
“Didn’t know when it was going to happen,” the five-time 30-goal scorer said. “Figured it was going to be something off my head or off my butt.”
Stars interim coach Rick Bowness wasn’t as worried, routinely telling reporters about the brilliant all-around game that Seguin brings to the table.
“We kept saying he’s doing a lot of things to help us win games. We’re right there knocking on the door for first place, and he’s been a huge part of it regardless of what the point totals tell us,” Bowness said. “There’s a big weight off his shoulders, and we’re very happy for him. We got the two points, and I know he’ll be more excited about the two points than the goal.”
Rookie Denis Gurianov has scored in consecutive games on three occasions over his past nine outings. The 22-year-old Russian tallied twice — including once on a penalty shot — in Dallas’ 4-1 victory over Montreal on Nov. 2.
Ben Bishop turned aside 35 shots in that contest to improve to 13-4-4 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 22 career appearances (21 starts) versus the Canadiens.
Dallas has scored a power-play goal in six straight games heading into the Saturday encounter with Montreal. The Canadiens, in turn, Are mired in a 6-for-62 rut with the man advantage in a 21-game stretch after going 1-for-3 in a 4-1 setback against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
“It is tiring to honestly answer those questions all the time,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s the facts, right? Power play’s not doing well, and we keep saying confidence is part of the power play and we had that for a long time. Lately it’s just slipped away, and what you’re seeing right now is that the simple plays don’t seem to be obvious right now, the right plays.”
Tomas Tatar was able to make the right play on the power play Friday night for Montreal, which was unable to muster anything else and dropped its third in a row on the heels of winning nine of its previous 12 games.
Tatar leads the team in goals (21) and assists (33). The 29-year-old winger has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his last 13 games.
However, Max Domi, the Canadiens’ points leader last season, has just one goal and two assists in his past 16 games. Artturi Lehkonen has just one goal and no assists in his past 11 games, but he tallied in the previous encounter against Dallas.
Workhorse Montreal goaltender Carey Price has started 49 of 60 games this season, including his 11th in 12 games on Friday. Price sat out with the flu on Feb. 4, with Charlie Lindgren stepping in and making 20 saves in a 5-4 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils.
–Field Level Media