While their struggles on the road continue, the Dallas Stars will try to maintain their dominance on home ice when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
Dallas is a sterling 14-3-1 in home games this season, yet only 4-12-1 on the road. The Stars have lost seven straight away games, including an unsuccessful Florida trip — a 7-1 drubbing vs. the Florida Panthers last Friday and a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
If nothing else, Saturday’s performance was “a step in a better direction” after being “humiliated” by the Panthers, according to Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell.
“Everyone was ready to come out the gates (against the Lightning) … I think if we compete and play more like this, we’re going to score more goals and we’re going to have more chances to win games,” Lindell said.
The Stars have only 32 goals in their 17 road games, while they have scored 65 goals over 18 home games.
Maximizing points in Dallas becomes even more important for the team in the wake of these road woes, and the Stars will now host the one team in the league with fewer away points. The Canadiens are 2-15-4 on the road this season, and 0-6-3 in their last nine contests away from Montreal.
Just getting back to Montreal has been an issue for the Habs, who are six games into an unplanned 10-game road trip. Due to the league-wide COVID-19 shutdown and other postponements, the Canadiens haven’t played a home game since Dec. 16.
The struggles continued for the Canadiens in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. In the battle of teams at the bottom of the NHL standings, the Habs became the first club this season to lose to the Coyotes by three goals.
In the face of this nightmarish season, forward Jonathan Drouin said the Canadiens are trying to stay positive in the locker room but “right now it’s very negative after a loss like that.”
“Only the players have to show up and start playing. We have systems that are right, we just have to execute them way better,” Drouin said.
Samuel Montembeault is expected to start the second half of the back-to-back set for Montreal, though Montembeault played the third period against Arizona in relief of starter Cayden Primeau. Coach Dominique Ducharme said he made the change to try and spark the Canadiens, after Primeau allowed four goals on 16 shots.
Montembeault and Primeau are Montreal’s goalie tandem for at least the next week, as Jake Allen and Carey Price are both sidelined with injuries.
Tanner Kero, Alexander Radulov and Andrej Sekera are questionable for the Stars’ roster on Tuesday due to COVID protocol. Denis Gurianov and Braden Holtby were activated from that protocol list, and at least Gurianov will play against Montreal.
If Holtby is given another night to recover, Jake Oettinger is Dallas’ likely starter in net. Oettinger has an impressive 2.47 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 13 games this season, though the goaltender received an early hook in his last outing after allowing four goals on 17 shots from the Panthers.
Stars forward Jason Robertson didn’t play against Tampa Bay. He is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Joe Pavelski has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) over his last nine games for Dallas.
–Field Level Media