“That was our team out there tonight,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I thought we did a great job right from the start. We had a full team effort tonight.”
There were plenty of positives in the game for the Stars. They allowed just 17 shots on goal, their best performance of the season in that department. The goaltending was good. Kari Lehtonen didn’t face a lot of shots, but he came up with big saves at key moments. The Stars won the special teams battle, scoring twice on the power play and going 2-2 on the penalty kill.
“I pretty well liked everything,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That’s the way we need to play. A lot of smart decisions, a lot of real good puck management and you win a lot of games playing like that.”
Tyler Seguin had a three-point night, registering two goals and one assist. Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt also scored, and Benn chipped in two assists.
The win pushed the Stars’ points streak at home to five games and their home record to 5-5-5. They are 10-12-5 overall.
But the Stars know it’s only one game, and they’ll need more similar efforts to climb out of the hole they’ve put themselves in over the first third of the season.
“We need to string some wins together. We’ve fallen into this trap before,” said Garbutt. “We’ve got to make sure we come back and work hard in practice and be ready for our next game.”
Montreal dropped its third straight game and lost for the sixth time in the past seven (1-5-1).
“I thought they did a good job of working hard, clogging up the neutral zone and getting pucks of their zone, moving it out of the zone. They were really good at that today,” said Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. “But we also have to play more forecheck as a five-man unit and make sure we’re in their face. We need to put the puck in places where we can get it back. I think we spent too much time chasing the puck today.”
The Stars played a strong first period, registering the first nine shots of the game and scoring on their ninth one to take a 1-0 lead. After Garbutt drew a holding penalty on Alexei Emelin, the Stars scored six seconds into their first power play of the night when Cody Eakin scored from close range at the 11:23 mark.
Lehtonen had a couple of big saves in the first period, including one on a shorthanded breakaway by Manny Malhotra with the Stars holding that 1-0 lead.
The Stars went on a five-on-three power play early in the second and cashed in to take a 2-0 lead. After Trevor Daley made a diving play at the blue line to keep the puck in the Montreal zone, Benn set up Seguin, who scored off a one-timer from the left circle at the 3:09 mark.
“The power play has been a big talking point for us,” Seguin said. “There’s a lot of accountability that needs to happen, we need to compete harder on the power play. I thought the five-on-three power play was definitely a lot better than the one you saw in Toronto. We’re going to build off it and go from there.”
The Stars extended the lead late in the second. After Garbutt drew a cross-checking penalty and was called for embellishment, the two teams played four-on-four, and the Stars scored off the ensuing faceoff. Benn won the draw back to Seguin, who put the puck past Montreal goaltender Carey Price with eight seconds left in the second to make it a 3-0 game.
The Canadiens got on the board early in the third. Sven Andrighetto scored off a backhand from close range at the 2:21 mark to cut the Stars’ lead to 3-1. But Montreal didn’t get much after that. The Stars limited the Canadiens to just six shots on goal in the period and not many chances.
“I think everyone might have been sitting around waiting for something bad to happen in the third and the one went in. But we stayed with it and played a really consistent third period,” Ruff said.
Garbutt sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 1:04 left, capping off a solid night for the Stars.
“I thought we competed and battled hard tonight, especially at the start of the game, knowing they played last night,” Seguin said. “That is one game of the long journey of digging ourselves out of the hole we created.”
Garbutt bounces back with strong effort
Stars forward Ryan Garbutt was benched Thursday night in Detroit for taking an undisciplined penalty. Saturday night he was drawing penalties. Garbutt drew four penalties on Montreal, two of them leading to goals. He also scored into an empty net to seal the Stars’ 4-1 victory and had a game-high six hits.
“He was fantastic. Disciplined. He had a great night,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I told him that he is an important player for us and I just want him to play the right way. I know there will be a slip up here and there. But tonight he was an A-plus. He knows that. I know that there will be the odd time [he slips up] that I have to just let go by. His response to what happened was exactly what I wanted to see.”
Garbutt drew a holding call on Alexei Emelin in the first period, and Cody Eakin scored six seconds into the power play to put the Stars up 1-0. Late in the second Emelin cross-checked Garbutt, who was penalized for embellishment. That led to four-on-four hockey and Tyler Seguin scored three seconds later to give Dallas a 3-0 lead. Garbutt also drew an unsportsmanlike penalty on Brandon Prust, who was trying to engage him in a fight and a holding call on P.K Subban.
Garbutt said he was looking to bounce back from Thursday’s game, when he played just 5:04 and didn’t see the ice in the second period.
“I’ve dealt with this my whole career and it’s just the way that I play. You have to learn to play on the edge. It’s nice to help the team win and not do something that doesn’t help the team win.”
Stars forward Ales Hemsky was a healthy scratch Saturday night. It’s the second time Hemsky, who has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 25 games, has been scratched this season. Stars coach Lindy Ruff talked about the decision following the game.
“Coach’s decision. That’s all,” Ruff said. “You hope from that experience that the player learns. He had a tough last game and we are in a position now where we have to play the hardest most willing competitors. Those are hard decisions. I know it’s tough, but the guys that are playing the hardest will play. It may be a different guy on a different night, but they are going to play.”
*The Stars outshot Montreal 29-17. The 17 shots against were the fewest allowed by the Stars this season.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*Seguin’s two goals Saturday give him 21 for the season.
*Seguin leads the NHL in both goals (21) and points (35).
*Seguin has 19 points (14 goals, 5 assists) in his past 14 games.
*Seguin is the first Stars player to reach the 20-goal mark by game number 27 since Mike Modano scored 20 goals in 27 games during the 1993-94 season.
*The Stars were 2-6 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 35 of 66 faceoffs (53 percent).
*Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 11 draws (73 percent). Jason Spezza won 11 of 18 (61 percent). Jamie Benn won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Cody Eakin won 2 of 12 (17 percent).
*Travis Moen played in his 700th NHL game.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie – Jason Spezza – Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jamie Oleksiak – John Klingberg
Scratched: Ales Hemsky, Jyrki Jokipakka
Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
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.