The Stars will face a new test for the first time this season: responding after a loss. Following their first defeat, a 3-2 overtime loss in Toronto on Thursday, the Stars take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
Limiting penalties is the obvious focal point for the Stars. They were short handed a season-high eight times against the Maple Leafs and have allowed at least four power plays in every game this season.
“We just took ourselves out of the game with penalties,’ Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday. “Two games in a row, so it’s not a problem yet, but it’s a concern and we’ve got to get it fixed.”
Outside of the penalties, Dallas has been solid early in the season. They currently sit atop the Central Division and second in the Western Conference standings. Possibly more importantly, the group is having fun and enjoying the process of implementing a new system and style of play on the ice.
"I've been watching and everyone is enjoying themselves, they want to win," said Scott Wedgewood. "It's a year where a lot of guys have taken a look in the mirror, and they want to take another step in their career – some young guys and guys who want to prove it, and I'm right in the mix there where you want to help and you want to take another step in your career. I think that's pretty much up and down the lineup, where everyone is striving for something better."
Although they are only slight changes, tonight will be the first time we see some shuffling in the lineup for Dallas. The third line of Jamie Benn, Wyatt Johnston, and Denis Gurianov has struggled through the first four games. Because of that, DeBoer opted to swap Gurianov and Ty Dellandrea on the right wing during the game on Thursday and will keep that look against Montreal.
Starting Goaltender: Jake Oettinger will make his fourth start of the season. He is 3-0-0 with a league-leading (min 3 games played) 1.00 goals-against average and .966 save percentage.
Stars Projected Lines
Canadiens Scouting Report
The Canadiens are a better team at the start of this season than they were when they finished 32nd in 2021-22. They hold a 3-2-0 record and have won their last two against Arizona and Pittsburgh, scoring nine goals in those games.
Nick Suzuki (3-3-6) and Cole Caufield (4-1-5) have led the way for the Habs this season while the duo of Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault have given Montreal excellent goaltending through five games. Stars fans likely remember Montembeault for his 48-save victory at the American Airlines Center last season.
2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky was ruled out with a lower-body injury on Saturday. The 18-year-old rookie scored his first career goal against the Coyotes on Thursday.
All-Time Record vs Canadiens: 39-76-24
Sam’s Three Keys
- Fewer than three penalties
- Find a way to get Jamie Benn involved (0 points, minus-2 so far)
- Keep playing with pressure and pace