Canadiens conclude six-game trip versus Stars
DALLAS -- The Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars enter their New Year's Eve tilt at American Airlines Center heading in opposite directions, but both clubs hope to end 2018 with a victory.
Montreal (20-14-5) is concluding a six-game road trip and is 3-2-0 on after a 6-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday.
"I'd say we played our game. We're fast, we can create things," Montreal coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought defensively we were closing them quickly. I thought we did a pretty good job of getting on them."
The Canadiens are 10-7-3 on the road this season.
Heading into the third period against the Lightning, Montreal held a 5-4 advantage only to allow the high-powered Lightning offense to score two unanswered goals to prevail by one goal.
"There are some things we can take that we did well," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said postgame. "We've been decent at that (holding leads heading into the third period) this year, so it's disappointing to let one slip."
Montreal and Dallas have already met once this campaign with the Stars defeating the Canadiens 4-1 at Bell Centre on Oct. 30.
Dallas (20-16-3) is on a two-game winning streak after a 5-1 drubbing of Detroit on Saturday, making the Stars 12-5-1 at home.
And even though Dallas started a crucial stretch where 10 of its next 13 contests are on home ice with a victory, rookie coach Jim Montgomery moves forward with guarded optimism about whether these past two wins are signs that the ship has finally been righted.
"I think it's too early to say we're building anything," Montgomery said after Saturday's win. "I think we've got to do it over a more extended period of time. In tonight's (Saturday's) win there were moments where we were a very good hockey team and there's moments where we weren't again. It's not a consistent thing of how we're playing together."
One aspect of Saturday's win Montgomery wants to clean up is the Stars putting the Red Wings on the power play four times, leading to Detroit's lone tall -- from Dylan Larkin in the third period.
"Not happy with it, I think it took away the momentum," Montgomery said. "You can't give refs the opportunity (to call penalties) by taking your stick off the ice. You've got to defend with your stick on the ice and you've got to skate to the defensive side. We had three stick penalties and one elbow."
As for Dallas' win in Montreal two months ago, Montgomery said after Sunday's practice that the victory was one starting goaltender Ben Bishop, who will also start Monday, stole by stopping 34 of 35 shots.
"Claude (Julien) is an excellent coach and he's got them playing real good hockey in my opinion," Montgomery said of the Canadiens. "Coming off the Detroit game, it's going to be a much faster game and a harder game for us. We need to be ready for it."
Bishop is 12-4-3 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .936 save percentage against the Canadiens.
Updated December 30, 2018