The Montreal Canadiens began the second half of their season with a wildly entertaining 6-4 victory on the road over the Dallas Stars.
The Canadiens scoring was bookended by a pair of breakaway goals by Max Pacioretty, whose 19 tallies currently have him sitting just outside the top ten in NHL goal scoring, even though he missed nine games this season with injury.
Canadiens Olympic hopeful P.K. Subban took over the second period, putting his elite level skill on full display in setting up David Desharnais after stickhandling around a pair of Stars defenders. Subban then outwaited another pair of Dallas defenders before beating Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen himself.
The pair of Habs goals was interrupted by a penalty shot goal by Russian rookie Valeri Nichuskin.
Montreal extended their lead to 4-2 early in the third period when Brendan Gallagher banged in a power play goal from his favorite spot, which is of course at the top of the crease. However, the Canadiens continued a disturbing trend that has cropped up recently, and were not able to hold down a seemingly comfortable lead.
Tyler Seguin and Brendan Dillon hammered home a pair of goals less than a minute apart to tie things up midway through the third period. It was a very similar story just two nights prior when a 3-0 third period lead turned into an overtime loss against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lars Eller saved the day for the Habs last night, when he scored on a pinpoint short side wrister that caught Lehtonen cheating to his blocker side. The goal was Eller’s second in as many games, and would prove to be the game winner. Pacioretty added the insurance late, when Subban gathered a puck in his own end and flipped it the length of the ice, where Pacioretty found it and deposited it into the empty net.
The Canadiens finished off the first half of the season with 50 points in 41 games, a pace that would see them finish with 100 points at season’s end and a guaranteed playoff berth. They got the second half started on the right foot last night, and will look to continue that trend when they return home to face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Habs Third Star: David Desharnais. The Habs small center continued his hot streak with a goal and an assist which gives him 19 points in his last 21 games. He had plenty of scoring chances and his line with Pacioretty and Gallagher were dominant all night.
Habs Second Star: Max Pacioretty. Max opened and closed out the scoring for the Habs, and also added a pair of assists on goals by Gallagher and Subban. His four points were the most in a single game this season, and it was also his first multi assist game of the season.
Habs First Star: P.K. Subban. Subban dominated throughout this game, setting up the Habs first goal with an amazing stretch pass, before hitting the highlight reel with a goal and assist in the second period. He finished the game with 1 goal and 3 assists.