Montreal Canadiens Blow Three Goal Lead and Their Lids in Loss to Dallas Stars

DALLAS, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars skates the puck against the Montreal Canadiens in the third period at American Airlines Center on November 02, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars skates the puck against the Montreal Canadiens in the third period at American Airlines Center on November 02, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens took on the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre looking to end a three game losing streak that has all but ended their slim playoff chances.

The Montreal Canadiens entered last night’s game with the Dallas Stars on a three game losing streak. This year’s version of the Habs has a tendency to allow losing skids stretch all the way to eight games, so ending one earlier than that would be nice.

They were dealt a bit of bad news just before the game as it was announced Nate Thompson would miss the game with the flu. Then, just before the puck dropped on the contest it was announced that Jonathan Drouin would also miss the game with a lower body injury.

It didn’t get much better as the game began. Within the first seven minutes Brendan Gallagher left for the dressing room after being tackled in front of the Stars net. It’s nothing new for Gallagher to be tackled by an opposing defender, but we rarely see him head to the dressing room for repairs unless it is serious. As it turned out, it was not serious this time as he was back on the bench shortly after heading for the trainer’s room.

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Max Domi briefly joined him in the recovery room as he was hit in the hand with a puck. He immediately took his glove off, shaking his hand in pain before turning for the bench and heading straight down the tunnel. Domi would quickly return to the bench as well. In a season marred by injuries to the Habs, it was nice to actually see two players quickly return to action after appearing to be hurt.

Even before players started heading down the tunnel, the Canadiens found the back of the net. A Domi shot hit Joel Armia in front of the net and landed right in the crease behind Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. Armia made no mistake shoving it over the line and into the back of the net to give the Habs a lead just 1:02 into the game.

The Habs would outshoot the Stars 11-8 in the opening period, and the score would remain 1-0 for the final 19 minutes.

Somehow, and I will never be able to explain it, but Jordan Weal and Nick Cousins played the most minutes of all Habs forwards in the opening period. Is Claude Julien embracing the tank? Is he that clueless? It is one or the other.

With Drouin being a late scratch Jordan Weal was scribbled into the lineup at the last minute to take his place. Weal took advantage of being put in the lineup by crashing the net early in the second period. Nick Suzuki was cruising down the boards after taking a great breakout pass from Ben Chiarot. As Suzuki got deep into the Stars zone he fired a pass to the front of the net and it bounced off Weal’s skate and into the net.

Nick Cousins, another fan favourite just like Weal, extended the lead to 3-0 by flying down the left wing and firing a wrist shot past Bishop. Okay, maybe Julien isn’t completely clueless.

Most NHL teams can comfortably sit on three goal leads. The Montreal Canadiens are definitely not most NHL teams.

Less than three minutes after Cousins made it a 3-0 lead, Mattias Janmark scored for the Stars. Marco Scandella clearly thought he was traded to the Dallas Stars earlier today after hearing trade rumours and made a beautiful pass to Joe Pavelski in the Habs zone. Pavelski made a great cross-ice pass to Janmark who simply tapped the puck into the wide open net.

Before the end of the period, the Stars struck again. This time it was a power play goal with Tyler Seguin sending a one-timer past Price from a long distance to pull Dallas within one.

Halfway through the third period, Blake Comeau slapped a shot from the blue line that did not look particularly dangerous. It somehow eluded Carey Price during his ninth period of hockey in four nights and tied the game at three.

The Canadiens finally woke up, realizing the game did not end when Weal and Cousins scored in the second period, and started to create offence once again. Chances from Gallagher and Armia were knocked away by Bishop and just like last Saturday night, the Canadiens were off to overtime.

Last week, Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game winner against the Maple Leafs and it felt like the Habs were in a playoff race once again. Three straight losses since then and the nerves weren’t firing at quite the same level waiting for this overtime period to begin.

When it did, Armia used some fancy stickhandling to beat a Stars defender. That Stars defender then reached in and hauled Armia down for an obvious penalty. Except, there was no penalty called for some reason. Perhaps the referees are protesting not getting overtime for games that go to overtime.

With 2:08 to go in the extra period, just about the time the Canadiens power play should have been ending, Tyler Seguin rushed up the boards and got a pass from John Klingberg. He cut to the middle of the ice, beating Victor Mete with the move and fired a backhander past Price to win the game.

Brendan Gallagher unloaded on referee Dean Morton who was obviously too busy doing something else to call blatant penalties in overtime. The end result was the Habs fourth straight loss and they are now halfway to their third eight game losing streak of the year. With 62 points in 61 games played, the past, the hope we felt this time last week has turned to despair.

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We can blame the refs all we want, for the third time this season the Canadiens found a way to lose a game when they had a three goal lead. Good teams don’t do that three times in a season.