On the second night of an Eastern Conference back to back, the Stars marched into Montreal to face the Canadiens after an emotional game for Lindy Ruff in Buffalo (4-3 win). Kari Lehtonen saw his second start in 24 hours.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Stephane Robidas (as always), Alex Chiasson, Antoine Roussel, and of course, Erik Cole. Montreal opened the scoring in the first period with a goal by Michael Bournival (Diaz, Plekanec). The Canadiens kept it coming in the second as they added another by capitalizing on a Stars turnover in the neutral zone and a lackluster back check. Montreal's second tally came courtesy of Rene Borque (Diaz).
A much needed score late in the second kept the Stars from losing control of this as Cody Eakin unleashed a wrist shot past Carey Price. Despite out-shooting the Habs 27-24, the Stars would not be able to even it up and take a 2-1 loss in Montreal.
-There were some positives to take from this game. The Stars out-shot Montreal and held them to 24 shots on net. We saw players getting into lanes and blocking shots. Kari was stellar as usual.
-Turnovers were not as prominent as we have seen recently. Although mistakes with the puck ultimately led to Montreal goals, this was not an overbearing issue, especially exiting the defensive zone.
-Execution was not consistent. Tonight was a roller-coaster of sound, positional, and back-to-basics hockey. There were flashes of in-tune passes and offensive zone brilliance; however, we saw some of the same mistakes and breakdowns which have been plaguing this team.
-Valeri Nichushkin can taste his first goal. His play has monumentally improved game in and game out which has earned him a pretty permanent spot on a line with Peverly and Horcoff. He has been back checking, picking up players, and making smart plays away from the puck. NICHUSHKIN-WATCH IS IN FULL SWING.
-Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski look like they have settled a little bit better (relatively) compared to where they were even a week ago. We saw some of the puck handling finesse by Gonchar tonight and Goose also created several opportunities in the offensive zone. Note they were not defensive partners.
-All in all, we can see that the Stars have the ability to play decent hockey. They need to find consistency and avoid the simple mistakes. The defense showed instances of solid zone coverage, but also collapsed at times around Kari. The consistency irregularities might be an issue we see dwindle down as these players have more time playing together and under Lindy Ruff's system.
-The Stars come home on Friday to face the red-hot Colorado Avalanche. Get out there and make some noise!