Stars pick up two big points in Montreal

It was a big night in Montreal for Ryan Garbutt, Mike Ribeiro and Kari Lehtonen and it helped add up to a big two points for the Dallas Stars.

Garbutt scored his first NHL goal, Ribeiro scored in his first regular season game in Montreal since being traded to Dallas in 2006 and Lehtonen stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season as the Dallas Stars beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 at Bell Centre Tuesday night.

“It was a big game for us,” said Ribeiro. “We threw pucks at the net, kept the game simple, our PK did a great job and obviously our goaltender has to be there every night to give you chance to win.”

The win moved the Stars to within two points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 22 games remaining.

The Stars got a great start in the game, outshooting Montreal 16-6 in the first period. Montreal had two shots through the first half of the period, and both came from center ice.

“They’re battling like we are to get into a spot. We need to put together a full 60 minutes and the first ten minutes in a game to set the tone is what you are really looking for,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.

The Stars broke through at the 14:12 mark of the first period when Ryan Garbutt scored his first NHL goal. After Garbutt put a shot on net, Toby Petersen won a battle behind the net to get the loose puck to Jake Dowell, who backhanded it from behind the goal to Garbutt, who rifled it past Habs goalie Carey Price from the left circle.

“It felt great out there, and after I got that goal it was a weight off my shoulders,” Garbutt said. “I just started playing the game with my instincts, I guess.”

Garbutt, playing in his third NHL game, had a game-high six shots on goal.

“I’ve just been doing what the coaches have been telling me – funnel the puck to the net,” Garbutt said. “I am just using my linemates out there. I am playing with great linemates since I got here and they make it real easy on me. Just keep moving my feet and trying to put pucks on net.”

Lehtonen and the Stars penalty kill came up big in the second period into early in the third, thwarting four Montreal power plays.

“Kari Lehtonen helped in that regard,” said Gulutzan. “I thought we blocked some key shots. They got some shots through, but we cleaned up a lot of those rebounds and ones we didn’t, Kari did. That was the key for us tonight."

A few minutes after the Stars killed off what was left of Montreal’s fourth power to play to start the third period, they then struck for two quick goals to put the Canadiens away.

Trevor Daley circled around the Montreal net and sent a cross-ice pass from the left circle to Mike Ribeiro, who one-timed the puck past Price at the 4:32 mark to put the Stars up 2-0 and then lifted his arms up in the air a couple of times in celebration.

“I don’t celebrate like that usually,” Ribeiro said. “I was just excited. It took me a while to celebrate, to find out what to do. I just wanted to put my arms up. It was big goal for us and a big play by Trevor Daley.”

Ribeiro has points in four straight games.

“It was a huge goal. You could see Ribby was as slick as ever tonight. He made some real nice plays and played a great two-way game,” Gulutzan said. “I was really happy for him to come back here in front of family and stuff and to do that is a big thing for anyone. It was nice that he got to go out there as the first star.”

On the next shift, Price turned the puck over when he tried to pass the puck up the middle of the ice. Tomas Vincour picked it off and set up Tom Wandell, who scored from the slot at the 5:09 mark to give the Stars a 3-0 lead.

“It was nice to get those two goals to make it 3-0 and make it a little easier on me,” said Lehtonen.

Notes: Stars lose Dowell during game; Burish misses game due to illness

*The Stars lost Jake Dowell to an upper body injury during the game. His status going forward is not known.

*Stars forward Adam Burish missed Tuesday’s game due to illness.

*The Stars were without defenseman Sheldon Souray (foot), center Jamie Benn (leg) and left wing Brenden Morrow (neck/shoulder). Souray could play Thursday. Benn is doubtful for Thursday. Morrow remains on injured reserve.