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Game Day: Canadiens @ Stars

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held a morning skate at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday morning ahead of their game against the Stars, who are tied with the Capitals atop the league standings with 48 points.

- After being recalled from the IceCaps on Friday, Michael McCarron flew to Dallas and joined the Canadiens on the ice for practice. The 6-foot-6 forward skated on a line with Paul Byron and Lars Eller in the morning and coach Michel Therrien confirmed he would be slotting his big forward in on the power play as a net-front threat.

“I was flying from St. John’s to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to visit my sister – she’s a nurse out there. I had just landed and was in her car for maybe five minutes when the GM from St. John’s called me. Chills went down my body and it was the best feeling I’ve probably ever had,” shared McCarron, who has racked up 24 points in 28 AHL games in his rookie pro campaign. “I’m a big body. I play hard, I get to the net, and I finish my checks. I just want to help this team win some hockey games. It’s my first NHL game, so hopefully the nerves will be out pretty early and I’ll play well. I feel lucky to have this opportunity and I’m going to run with it.”

- The Habs’ defense corps will look to slow down the NHL’s hottest offensive squad on Saturday, as the Stars currently lead the league with an average of 3.34 goals-per-game. Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are sitting second and third in the league behind Patrick Kane with 42 and 41 points, respectively.

“They score goals. Tonight will be a challenge for us to see if we can play in their end. The best defense for us is playing offense,” said Max Pacioretty, who is leading the Canadiens with 14 goals this season. “When you’re playing against top lines, you need to counter them with playing good offense. We don’t want to play defense against this team; we want to keep them out of our end and force them to make mistakes in their end.”

- That’s what Therrien is hoping for from his newly-formed top trio, consisting of Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, and Alex Galchenyuk, who were thrown together at the end of Thursday’s game against the Kings.

“When we put them together last game, they had a lot of scoring chances,” mentioned the Habs bench boss. “They didn’t get the results, but you have to look at their puck possession stats and scoring chances and things like that. I really like their dynamic. I don’t have last change tonight, but I’m very comfortable if they end up out there against the top line.”

- If the Stars have shown one weakness this season, it has been the effectiveness of their penalty kill, sitting 20th in the NHL with a 79.6% efficiency. The Habs’ power play will be looking to exploit that on Saturday night, having been blanked with the man advantage in seven-straight games, going 0-for-21 on the power play in that span.

“We don’t look too much into where they are in the standings; we look more at their tendencies, but the focus is more on us,” explained Jeff Petry, who averages 2:01 of power play ice time per game. “We can’t be looking for the perfect play. We just have to get pucks to the net and look for rebounds. We’re going to get greasy goals. You get a couple of those and that will help build the confidence.”

- Mike Condon will be between the pipes against the Stars, marking the rookie netminder’s 19th start of the season and seventh on road ice. In his six previous road starts, Condon has posted a 4-1-1 record.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST and is available on CITY TV, TVA Sports, and NHLN-US, in addition to 98,5FM and TSN 690.

LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICE

Pacioretty-Plekanec-Galchenyuk
Fleischmann-Desharnais-Weise
Byron-Eller-McCarron
Carr-Mitchell-Flynn
Andrighetto
Smith-Pelly


Beaulieu-Subban
Emelin-Petry
Markov-Gilbert
Tinordi-Pateryn

SEE ALSO:
Game preview: Canadiens vs. Stars 
Words from the room


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