Dallas Stars Game Day: 3/17/22 @ Montreal Canadiens

After three straight losses, the Dallas Stars look to get back in the win column against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. With the recent struggles, Dallas has dropped from within reach of the top three in the Central Division to one point of a playoff spot entirely. 

Stars Looking For Scoring…Again

The goal scoring was a non-issue for the most part over the successful run for this team since the All-Star break. However, over their handful of games, it has come back to rear its ugly head once again. 

“We’ve got one goal the last two road games.” Rick Bowness said. “So we have to try things. Nothing is off the board, we will try anything to get some offense. We have to find a way to generate more offense from more lines, not just one.” 

The top line for Dallas has been strong all season. Joe Pavelski leads the team with 60 points, Jason Robertson leads them with 30 goals, and Roope Hintz sits just behind them. For the Stars to have success, especially on the road, they need their other nine forwards and defense to start producing at a consistent level. This has been an issue for a large part of the season and brings in that word they have been so desperately searching for: consistency. 

“Don’t look for the perfect shot,” Bowness said. “We had six opportunities from the slot that missed the net. That is bearing down and making sure you hit the net. When you are open in the slot and you miss the net, that is just concentration. I get it, they are trying to score. You see a spot, you shoot for it, you are not going to hit it every time. But when there’s six opportunities, three of those should at least hit the net.” 

Related: Stars “Like Their Depth” Ahead of Trade Deadline

Two players, in particular, that could help the Stars do this are Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Those two have had loads of chemistry in the past and have shown it in random spurts this season. However, for whatever reason, it has not been there on a consistent basis and continues to hurt the team during this playoff push. Their stats are not horrible over the last seven games, Benn has five points while Seguin has three, but it has not been enough and they were the worst line on the ice in the recent loss to Toronto. They are expected to play on separate lines tonight. 

Dallas Stars Jamie Benn Tyler Seguin-Dallas Stars Game Day: 3/17/22 @ Montreal Canadiens
Dallas Stars Jamie Benn is congratulated by teammate Tyler Seguin (AP Photo/LM Otero)

“We showed them video this morning on why it wasn’t working and what you have to do to correct it,” Bowness said. “They were off. When that line is off, they are bad in the defensive zone. That line could have been minus-3 on four shifts. If you are off and not scoring and you are off defensively, that is not a good combination.”

Canadiens Scouting Report

The Habs returned to full attendance in the largest arena in the NHL on March 12, so it will be a hostile environment for the Stars tonight. Montreal fans have also been treated to a solid streak of play from their team, who has gone 6-3-1 in their past 10 games, scoring 38 goals over that span. While they still sit at the bottom of the league, it presents a challenge for a Stars team that has struggled lately to keep pucks out of their own net

The Canadiens will also receive some help tonight as forward Christian Dvorak and goaltender Jake Allen were both activated from IR this morning. Neither player has played since January and should provide a boost. 

“For me, it’s just about finishing the season on a strong foot. It’s the same mindset as the whole team. Individually, it’s just for me to finish the year on the right foot, on a positive foot,” said Allen, who has a 5-16-2 record in 24 appearances this year. “I understand it’s not going to be perfect right away. It’s something I’m going to have to build over a couple of games to get back and go from there.”

Jake Allen Montreal Canadiens-Dallas Stars Game Day: 3/17/22 @ Montreal Canadiens
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

However, they will be without Ben Chiarot, who was traded to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. The team also traded leading scorer Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames in February. 

Without Toffoli, Nick Suzuki is the clear leader on the offensive side of the puck. With 43 points in 60 games, he leads second-place Artturi Lehkonen by 15 points. 

The Stars were stymied by an inexperienced goaltender when these teams met in Dallas on Jan. 18. 25-year-old Sam Montembeault recorded 51 saves and a .941 save percentage to lead the Habs to a 5-2 victory. That defeat was the one that really turned the season around for Dallas, who went 4-0-0 on the road trip following it and have been a completely different team since.  

Lineup Updates 

  • Jake Oettinger will start once again– “Get used to it,”- Rick Bowness said.
  • Esa Lindell did not practice yesterday but is expected to play tonight 
  • Jacob Peterson will return to the lineup and skate on a line with Tyler Seguin and Luke Glendening
  • Andrej Sekera will not play tonight but will return this weekend

He Said It 

“We just have to find a way to be better,” Jamie Benn said. We’re going to have to dig in and step up.”

Projected Lines 

  • Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski
  • Peterson-Seguin-Glendening
  • Studenic-Benn-Gurianov
  • Raffl-Faksa-Radulov
  • Suter-Hakanpaa
  • Harley-Klingberg
  • Lindell-Hanley
  • Oettinger
  • Scheel
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