The Montreal Canadiens are one of the toughest teams to score on in the NHL, and the Dallas Stars found out just how hard it can be Tuesday night. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 26 saves and Montreal’s forwards and defenseman blocked 29 shots as the Canadiens defeated the Stars, 2-1, at Bell Centre.
“We do the little things right some nights and the other nights we’re just a little off,” said Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. “Our goal is to get pucks to the net and I heard they blocked a lot of shots. That’s what it is going to take to win, blocking a lot of shots. If we’re not going to hit the net we’re not going to score. Credit to them for blocking a lot of shots, but it’s our job to get it on net and get some greasy ones on the road.”
The loss snapped a three game points streak for the Stars, dropped their road record to 2-5-0 and left them with a 5-6-1 mark overall.
Montreal built a 2-0 lead, the Stars cut the lead to 2-1 late in the second and then outshot Montreal 9-3 in the third as they tried to get the equalizer.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “They got a bounce on the first goal, it was going wide. I thought we did a good job killing off their power plays, we had a couple of late opportunities point blank. They did a great job of being in shot lanes and blocking shots. It’s probably a game we could have come out of here with points.”
Cody Eakin scored the lone goal for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 22 of 25 shots.
The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first period when a Raphael Diaz shot from the right point was deflected by Michael Bournival, bounced off Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas and into the net.
The Stars had a great chance to tie with 5:16 left in the period, but Price stopped Jamie Benn’s bid from the left circle with the Stars on a three-on-one rush.
Price had a couple more big saves seven minutes into the second period, stopping a close range bid by Alex Chiasson and then 20 seconds later turning away a shot by Alex Goligoski from the left circle.
Lehtonen came up big when the Canadiens went on a power play midway through the second, making several saves including a sharp stop on a Bournival redirection of a P.K. Subban shot.
But the Canadiens extended their lead a short time later when the Stars turned the puck over at the Montreal blue line and the Canadiens scored off the rush as Rene Bourque scored off the rebound of a Diaz shot.
The Stars got on the board with 2:33 left in the second when Cody Eakin took a pass from Brenden Dillon at the Dallas blue line, skated into the Montreal zone and beat Price with a wrist shot from the slot to make it a 2-1 game.
The Stars came close to tying it early in the third when a Valeri Nichushkin shot from close range got behind Price, but Montreal defenseman Francois Bouillon cleared the puck away.
The Stars had more chances as the period moved along. Price stopped a close range chance by Chiasson with 11:29 left in the game. Chiasson had a great chance with 8:49 remaining, but Ray Whitney’s centering pass was bouncing and Chiasson fired it wide.
“That’s a play we usually connect and it was just a tough bounce,” said Chiasson.
The Stars went on their first and only power play chance of the night with 8:12 remaining, but couldn’t cash in.
The Stars pulled Lehtonen with just under a minute left, and Eakin had a great chance immediately, but Price made a slick glove save. The Stars couldn’t get anything going after that, and Montreal hung on for the victory to improve to 8-5-0 on the season.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.