MONTREAL -- Dallas Stars rookie Alex Chiasson has had a near historic number of highlights over the course of his short NHL career, but the one to come Tuesday at Bell Centre may top them all.
The Montreal-area native who has begun his NHL career with 11 goals in 18 games will play his first game in his hometown, with more than 50 family and friends expected to attend the game against the Montreal Canadiens.
"When we start the season there are always a couple of dates we circle, and tonight's going to be a memorable night for me," Chiasson said. "When the plane landed last night I was a little nervous. I didn't sleep much last night."
Chiasson, who spent some of his childhood in suburban Lorraine, Quebec before moving to the Quebec City suburb of Saint-Augustin at age 7, has found a big fan in new Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
"I love this kid because he'll do anything to score goals, he's a very competitive young man, he's a big part of our penalty killing on the other side of it, which tells you a lot about how a coach is going to use him," Ruff said. "But around the front of the net he's got that gift of wanting to score goals. He'll score them on his knees, he'll score them facing the other way, he's as good as anybody on our team at tipping pucks, he's just got a knack around the net."
Neither Ruff's Stars nor the Canadiens held a morning skate Tuesday, with both playing the previous night in another city. The Canadiens won 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the opening game at the newly-refurbished Madison Square Garden, while the Stars won 4-3 at the Buffalo Sabres in Ruff's first game against the team he coached for nearly 15 seasons.
Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj got the shutout in New York on Monday, so there is a very strong likelihood that starter Carey Price will be back in net against Dallas.
Ruff said he doesn't anticipate making any lineup changes, though he refused to answer who will play in goal. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen turned aside 25 shots in the win in Buffalo and has led the team to a 2-0-1 mark since he returned from a groin injury Oct. 24. Lehtonen missed five games with the injury so he should be well rested, and backup Dan Ellis has not been very good this season with a 1-3-0 record, 3.60 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
It's very possible Ruff will turn to Lehtonen again Tuesday.
The Stars are 0-2-0 in the back end of back-to-back games this season, and Ruff said he wants his team to show it can play under trying circumstances.
"I want to see the players grind through back-to-backs. We've got to become a better team and to a man we know that," he said. "Tonight will be a night we have to go out there and show it."
Here are the lines the Canadiens and Stars used Monday, with the exception of Price starting for the Canadiens:
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Erik Cole
Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Valeri Nichushkin – Shawn Horcoff – Rich Peverley
Lane MacDermid – Vernon Fiddler – Antoine Roussel
Trevor Daley – Sergei Gonchar
Jordie Benn – Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski – Brenden Dillon
Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Travis Morin, Ryan Garbutt (suspended)
Michael Bournival - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brendan Gallagher
Rene Bourque - David Desharnais - Louis Leblanc
Patrick Holland - Ryan White - Mike Blunden
Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges - Raphael Diaz
Douglas Murray - Francis Bouillon
Scratched: Greg Pateryn
Injured: Max Pacioretty, Daniel Briere, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Travis Moen, Alexei Emelin, Davis Drewiske