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Game Day - Stars - March 8

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre. Sixteen players took part in the on-ice session, including forwards Tomas Plekanec, Jacob De La Rose, Phillip Danault, Sven Andrighetto, Michael McCarron, Mike Brown, Lucas Lessio, Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Stefan Matteau. Also present were defensemen Victor Bartley, Mark Barberio, Andrei Markov and Greg Pateryn, along with goaltenders Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens.

- Scrivens, meanwhile, will get the start in goal for the Canadiens on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old last appeared between the pipes on March 3 in a 3-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings. He turned aside 28 of 31 shots against in the defeat. The Stars will likely counter with Kari Lehtonen.

- Following the optional skate, the Canadiens confirmed that Alex Galchenyuk would play on Tuesday night against the Stars after being given a therapy day on Monday. For his part, Lars Eller is a game-time decision following a therapy day on Monday, too.

- Galchenyuk is in the midst of a scoring streak that has seen him light the lamp seven times in his last six games – including three multi-goal efforts during that span. Heading into Tuesday night’s contest, however, the Canadiens’ No. 27 isn’t really paying too much attention to his individual stats. Content with his recent success, Galchenyuk realizes there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

“I try not to think about that too much. Obviously, the puck is going in for me right now. I’m definitely happy about it. I’ve been working on my offensive game. I’m just trying to keep it going and be as creative as I can be out there and use my skill to create plays,” said Galchenyuk, who is coming off a two-goal effort against Winnipeg last Saturday night. “There’s still a lot of work for me to do.”

Having captain Max Pacioretty by his side has certainly helped Galchenyuk’s cause. Their undeniable chemistry was on full display over the weekend in Manitoba.

“I think it’s definitely important for me to build chemistry with him. We both want to be successful and succeed together. Last game, we made some good plays. He set me up a couple of times,” said Galchenyuk, who was the recipient of a highlight-reel feed from Pacioretty for his first goal of the night in a 4-2 loss at the MTS Centre. “We’re still working, though. There’s time to adjust. I’ll adjust to him and he’ll adjust to me. I’m excited about playing with him, obviously. He’s a big weapon on this team. We’re trying to go out there and create as much as we can.”

- Stefan Matteau will play his first game at the Bell Centre in a Canadiens uniform on Tuesday night. The 22-year-old, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly at the trade deadline, has been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to don the bleu-blanc-rouge for real on home turf.

Stefan Matteau

“It’s a bit of a new environment. I’ve been at the building as a visitor before, but things will be different this time around,” said Matteau, who has previously played two career games at the Bell Centre with the Devils, with one of those games coming earlier on this season. “I’ve got a lot of people coming to the game. It will definitely be a nice night.”

While Matteau’s excitement level might be at an all-time high, he understands the need to not let it get the best of him come game time.

“It’s the same game and the same league [playing at the Bell Centre this time]. I’m trying not to think about it too much. It’s definitely exciting and it’s big. But, it’s still hockey,” said Matteau, who played in three of the four games on the Canadiens’ most recent road trip. “I’m going to focus on playing well and staying calm.”

Tuesday night’s game will also mark newcomer Mike Brown’s first game in front of the Bell Centre faithful in a Canadiens uniform.

- Back on December 19, the Stars handed the Canadiens a 6-2 loss in Dallas, so it’s safe to say Michel Therrien’s troops understand just how good their opponents on Tuesday night really are. Lindy Ruff’s contingent sits atop the Western Conference standings – alongside the Chicago Blackhawks – with 87 points on the year, in addition to boasting the NHL’s most potent offense.

Having already battled the Stars three times this season with Chicago, Phillip Danault has a good idea of exactly what they’re capable of.

“They’ve got four lines that can put up points. A third-line guy like [Cody] Eakin is really good offensively, too. We’ll have to be very aggressive and solid defensively,” said Danault, who will be playing his sixth career game with the Canadiens on Tuesday night. “Guys like [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin complement each other really well. They’re just as dangerous a duo as [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane. They’ve got skills that the majority of players in the league simply don’t have. We’ll have to pay very close attention to them.”

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet East and RDS.

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