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Canadiens return home to face Stars

by Brian Hunter /

STARS (5-5-1) at CANADIENS (7-5-0)


Last 10: Dallas 5-4-1; Montreal 6-4-0

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens. In their most recent matchup, on Feb. 21, 2012, Kari Lehtonen stopped all 31 shots he faced to lead the Stars to a 3-0 win at Bell Centre.

Big story: It's the second half of a back-to-back for each team. The Stars might be tempted to give Lehtonen the night off after he played his third game in five nights in a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, while Carey Price figures to get the nod for the Canadiens after backup Peter Budaj blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 at Madison Square Garden.

Team Scope:

Stars: Back to business as usual for Dallas after a somewhat emotional game at First Niagara Center, at least for coach Lindy Ruff. Having spent the majority of his NHL career as both a player and a coach in the Sabres employ before getting fired in February, his return to Buffalo ended up a successful one.

Tyler Seguin continued to shine in his new surroundings, scoring the final of three first-period goals for the Stars and setting up what proved to be the game-winner by Jamie Benn midway through the second. Lehtonen wasn't quite as sharp as in his first two games after returning from a lower-body injury, but his 22 saves were enough to outduel Ryan Miller.

"I have a lot of respect for years I had here," said Ruff, who got a standing ovation during a play stoppage in the first. "The hockey is one thing, but the community support for me and my family was second to none. The fans are terrific. I was glad once the tribute was over, I just wanted to get game over after that. A lot of good memories here."

Canadiens: Budaj was one of the League's best backups last season, going 8-1-1 and allowing coach Michel Therrien to feel comfortable giving Price periodic rests even with an abbreviated schedule. The veteran who's won as many as 31 games in a season for the Colorado Avalanche has picked right back up where he left off.

After stopping 27 of 28 shots in his only previous start this season, Oct. 10 at the Edmonton Oilers, this time Budaj was 27-for-27 as he kept an MSG crowd looking to make noise in the Rangers' home opener silent. Tomas Plekanec gave him all the support he'd need with a power-play goal late in the second and Alex Galchenyuk added insurance with 2:51 left in the third.

"He's playing great," Plekanec told NHL Network. "He's one of the best backup goalies I've played with. He's working so hard in practice, staying on with the guys for another half hour practicing. It's paid off for him and it's good to have the two goaltenders we have."

Who's hot: Benn has three goals in as many games for the Stars. … Plekanec has three goals and three assists in the past four games for the Canadiens.

Injury report: Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt, whose first NHL goal was the game-winner the last time these teams met, is serving a five-game suspension. … Montreal defensemen Alexei Emelin (knee) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and forwards George Parros (concussion), Max Pacioretty (hamstring), Brandon Prust (upper body) and Daniel Briere (concussion) are on injured reserve. Forward Travis Moen (facial lacerations) also missed Monday's game.

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