dallas jan 2For the second game in a row, the Canadiens allowed a multi-goal third period lead slip away, but against the Dallas Stars Thursday night, they were able to survive it with two late goals to win 6-4.   It was the final game of the Canadiens annual holiday six game road trip.  Max Pacioretty scored two more goals, his second into an empty net.  Lars Eller scored what proved to be the winning goal midway through the third period after the Stars had tied the game with two goals in 47-seconds.  Also scoring for the Habs were David Desharnais and P.K. Subban.  Subban also had three assists.  For the Stars it was Jamie Benn, TYyler Seguin, Brenden Dillon and Valeri Nichushkin, who was good on a second period penalty shot.  Final shots on goal were 32-28 in favour of Dallas.

Adding It Up –

The Hard Way – They seemed to make it difficult for themselves at almost every turn, but in the end the Canadiens wound up with an improbable 3-2-1 winning road trip.  Three of the six games were decided after sixty minutes.  The last two featured blown third period leads. With seven of a possible twelve points they are back in a tie with Tampa for second in the Atlantic Division with 52 points, four behind Boston.

Wild Ride – The Canadiens had an awful time of it against Dallas in the first period.  The Stars scored the game’s first goal but the Habs got out of the period tied at 1-1 thanks to Max Pacioretty’s breakaway.  The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead only to have Valeri Nichushkin tie it on a penalty shot.  The Canadiens took a 4-2 lead only to have the Stars tie in the third with two goals in a 47 second stretch.  The winning goal came with just under ten minutes left.

How Bad Were They?   – In the first period, the Habs were really, really bad.  Stuck in the sand.  To use the cliché, ‘the Stars skated rings around them.’  Dallas directed 22 shots at Carey Price.  The best the Habs could do was 9, six of them on-goal.  The Stars won 15 of 17 faceoffs.  Montreal’s lone power play was embarrassing.  Yet, after one, it was 1-1 thanks to a bad Dallas line change sprung Pacioretty free.

Money Man – P.K. Subban came up with his game of the year at the right time.  His stretch pass sent Pacioretty in on the first goal.  He brilliantly set up Desharnais on the second goal.  He scored the Canadiens third goal with some great work through the high slot and then another stretch pass to send Pacioretty in for the empty net clincher.  In a team leading 23:52 of ice time he four points, was plus-3, recorded six hits and blocked two shots.  First star, and no doubt about it.

What He’s Paid To Do –  Another two goal night for Max Pacioretty.  In his last 21 games he has 17 goals.  In the league only Alex Ovechkin has scored more over that stretch.  Nineteen on the season now and he added two assists to his total of four going into the game.  He also had seven shots on goal.

Gorges – If Subban was the Canadiens best defenseman, Josh Gorges was a close second.  We’re used to seeing him pay his nightly dues but what he did in front of Carey Price was extraordinary.  He came a fraction away from saving the Nichushkin breakaway that led to the penalty shot.  He dove across behind Price in the crease to save a goal that would have put Dallas ahead in the third period.  Officially – seven blocked shots.

Game Changer – The momentum seemed to shift early in the second period when Travis Moen followed a brief and mostly uneventful Ryan White fight with a brawl against Dallas tough guy Antoine Roussel.  Moen clearly won a long slugfest, ignoring the fact that he had to punch around a player wearing a visor.  And through the final ten minutes of the game, he played eight shifts with Eller and Prust.  It was not only the Canadiens best line as the game closed out but Moen also assisted on Eller’s winning goal. goal.

Also Worth Noting – ……..Andrei Markov played in his 100th consecutive game.  He didn’t play very well, which made the performance of his defense partner Josh Gorges even more remarkable.  ……Tomas Plekanec, the second senior member of the team, also didn’t have a great time of it in the faceoff circle for the second consecutive game.  He won only 4 of 20 and over the last two games has won only ten of 54.  …..There were some very good saves from  Carey Price, especially down the stretch as the Canadiens protected their lead, but he won’t hanging any blue ribbons on his performance.  He looked shaky in the first period and seemed a bit off his game.  ……I thought Brendan Gallagher showed signs of returning energy in the game against Carolina.  He had a good night, with a goal and assist.   ……And we shouldn’t forget David Desharnais who, with a goal and assist and four good scoring chances was very much a factor again.  I don’t think t’s a co-incidence that Desharnais game and Pacioretty’s picked up at almost the same time in mid-November.

Moving On –  The Canadiens are home and will play a game at the Bell Centre Saturday for the first time in 18 days when they host the Senators followed by Florida on Monday.