It was a night of firsts as the Stars took down the Canadiens 5-2 at the Bell Centre on Saturday, improving their early-season record to 4-0-1.
Esa Lindell picked up his first goal of the season, Arber Xhekaj tallied his first career NHL goal for Montreal, and most notably, Joe Pavelski recorded his first regular-season hat trick as a member of the Dallas Stars.
Pavelski picks up his first regular-season hat trick in Dallas.
It didn’t take long for Pavelski to get going on Saturday night. His first goal came just over four minutes into the game as he snuck an elite-level backhand over the shoulder of Jake Allen in tight on the power play, one of two power-play goals for Dallas in the game. His second came 18 seconds into the second period from the slot, and he added the final tally off the rush in the third, recording the first hat trick for Dallas against Montreal since Jason Arnott in December of 2002.
With his third goal, Pavelski became the oldest player in franchise history (38) to record a hat trick.
"It’s incredible what he’s doing, really," Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. "He looks exactly like he did five, six years ago, like the clock stopped. He looks like he can do it for another five years. It’s hard to explain, he’s just a special athlete."
It was the second time in five games that the top line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Pavelski recorded eight points.
Stars keep finding a way to pull away.
The Canadiens pushed back after Dallas dominated most of the first period. Mike Hoffman jumped on a rebound off of an offensive-zone turnover by Dallas to tie the game at one late in the first period. Then when Dallas got up 3-1 on a beautiful power-play goal by Jason Robertson and looked like they would pull away again, the first career goal for the very popular rookie Arber Xhekaj brought the Habs back within striking distance.
But once the Stars stopped playing Montreal’s high-risk style of game and Esa Lindell’s late-period goal restored the two-goal lead, they did not look back.
Stars Captain Jamie Benn has his best game of the season.
Jamie Benn had by far his best game of the season. Other than Wyatt Johnston’s first career goal on opening night, the third line of Benn, Johnston, and Denis Gurianov had really struggled.
Pete DeBoer opted to swap Gurianov with Ty Dellandrea, and the line responded with three assists, two of which were the first two points of the season for Benn. If Dallas is going to have consistent success this season, they need their captain to find ways to affect the game and he had his fingerprints all over this victory.
Stars continue to dominate the special team's battle.
After racking up eight penalties against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Stars were shorthanded four times on Saturday.
While it is not a winning recipe to allow four or more power plays per game, the Stars penalty kill continued to dominate their opponents, going 4-for-4 against the Habs on Saturday. They have now killed all but two of the 25 power plays they have faced this season (92%).
On the flip side, Dallas tallied two power-play goals of their own, going 2-for-3 overall and bettering their power-play percentage on the season. After tonight, they have scored six goals on 17 power-play opportunities.
Jake Oettinger does his thing once again.
Jake Oettinger was solid again, stopping 32 of 34 Montreal shots (.941%). Although he was not called on to be heroic, he quietly had a stellar performance in net that included multiple odd-man rush stops to keep the Stars ahead. The 23-year-old improved to 4-0-0 with a .950 save percentage.
"Last year, we kind of sat back a little bit when we would get a lead, and this year, we're on offense and we're trying to score and build the lead even more, so it's obviously great for me," Oettinger said. "The best defense you can have is when the puck is in their end."
Fun Stat: This is the first time since the 2006-2007 season that Dallas has begun a season with no regulation losses in their first five games.
Sam’s Three Stars
- First Star: Joe Pavelski, DAL (3 goals, 1 assist)
- Second Star: Jamie Benn, DAL (2 assists, 5 shots)
- Third Star: Roope Hintz, DAL (2 assists)