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Feb 9, 2024 1:55 pm

Stars look to halt woes on special teams in clash vs. Habs

Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are sitting pretty in the Western Conference, but their penalty kill has been an issue of late.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens’ power play is starting to heat up.

Looking to improve on special teams, the visiting Stars also aim to avoid a sweep of the season series at the hands of the Canadiens on Saturday afternoon.

Tied atop the Central Division, Dallas saw its 5-0-1 stretch halted with Wednesday’s 5-4 loss at Toronto. The Stars surrendered two goals 20 seconds apart in the third period to the Maple Leafs.

Perhaps more unnerving for the Stars, and coach Peter DeBoer, is that the team allowed the Maple Leafs to convert on all three power-play chances. Dallas’ opponents are 8-for-13 on the power play over the last five games.

The Stars’ previous eight power-play goals allowed came in 14 games.

“I think you’re going to go through ebbs and flows,” DeBoer said.

“It’s a combination of things, little details. But we’ve got a good penalty kill, and I’m confident that long term it has been good, and it will be good.”

Montreal went 1-for-3 on the power play during a 4-3 win at Dallas on Jan. 2. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are 4-for-8 with the man-advantage during their current 2-0-1 stretch.

The second of Juraj Slafkovsky’s two third-period goals came on the power play Tuesday, as Montreal won 5-2 at Washington. Captain Nick Suzuki collected two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who remain competitive amid a continuing rebuild that seems likely to keep them out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

In his first full NHL season, Slafkovsky has recorded five of his career-high nine goals over the last eight games. Three of those goals and two assists came on the power play.

“It’s (been a) good way, but I still need to improve a lot,” said Slafkovsky, who assisted on a Suzuki goal at Dallas last month.

“It doesn’t matter about the points; it matters about the overall game.

Suzuki has three goals with five assists during a five-game point streak. He’s posted two goals and seven assists in seven games versus Dallas.

Fellow Canadiens star Cole Caufield also scored at Dallas this season. He will carry a 10-game point streak (six goals, seven assists) into this contest.

Montreal’s Sam Montembeault (3.40 goals-against average) made 37 saves on Tuesday, and 30 at Dallas. Meanwhile, teammate Jake Allen (3.43 GAA) has lost four of his last five starts and Cayden Primeau (3.32 GAA) is amid a three-game starting slide.

Jake Oettinger (2.96 GAA) and Scott Wedgewood (3.08 GAA) each started a game in Dallas’ back-to-back out of the break. Wedgewood saved 14-of-18 shots versus Montreal last month.

The Stars’ Jason Robertson scored against the Canadiens this season but has been held without a goal in four straight contests.

Dallas’ Wyatt Johnston notched one of his 15 goals versus Montreal. He has totaled five with five assists in his last 11 games overall.

–Field Level Media

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