Stars at Canadiens
The Dallas Stars hope to get their offense back in gear and continue to solidify a Western Conference playoff spot when they visit the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The Stars, who hold the first wild-card spot, managed five goals in the last four games (1-2-1) after a 3-1 setback Sunday against Pittsburgh in the opener of a six-game road trip.
“We have the opportunity to generate and we want to make the next play,” Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. “We don’t want to do the hard stuff to score. We don’t want to put (the puck) into areas that we need to. We don’t put it on the net and pick it up from there.” Backup Kari Lehtonen, who is 1-2-1 despite giving up seven total goals in the last four games, is expected to make his fifth straight start for the Stars with Ben Bishop (lower-body) still out. The Canadiens can identify the Dallas’ offensive struggles as they sit 29th in the league in goals per game (2.51) after suffering a 5-2 setback Monday in Columbus for their fifth straight loss (0-3-2). Montreal, which is 16-10-8 at home, registered 40 shots Monday - the second time in three games it has done so in a defeat - and received goals from Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, RDS (Montreal), FS Southwest Plus (Dallas)
ABOUT THE STARS (38-25-6): Center Tyler Sequin is one of the only players producing on offense of late, recording seven goals and seven assists over the last nine games to push his team-leading total to 65 points. Right wing Alexander Radulov is slated to play his 300th NHL game Tuesday against his former team and notched his 25th goal Sunday - one away from his career high in 2007-08 while with Nashville. Captain Jamie Benn is tied with Radulov for second on the team with 60 points and defenseman John Klingberg is next with 57, but has only three in his past 10 games.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (25-32-12): Gallagher boasts four goals in his last six games and tops the team with 25 - topping his previous career high of 24 in 2014-15 - while leading Montreal with 42 points. Drouin notched his 11th goal and defenseman Jeff Petry increased his career high to 33 points with an assist Monday for the Canadiens, who are 1-for-18 on the power play in the last six games. Left wing Artturi Lehkonen snapped a 13-game goal drought in Tampa Bay on Saturday and came up empty against Columbus, but led the team with five shots.
1. Montreal G Antti Niemi, who was rested Monday, has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his last nine starts.
2. Four of the five goals Dallas has scored in the last four games have come on the power play, which is 4-for-14 in that span.
3. Seguin and F Devin Shore each had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Nov. 21 in the first meeting.