Stars-Canadiens thoughts

Some thoughts after the Dallas Stars beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 to take over first place in the Western Conference.

*If you go by points the Stars are on top of the Western Conference this morning. They still trail the Red Wings and Canucks based on points percentage, but the standings don’t take that into account right now and they stack them based on points and the Stars have the lead for the day. It will get them some recognition and it’s well deserved.

*They played a strong game Tuesday. They got outshot 29-17, but I am not sure that’s an accurate reflection of the game. They controlled play early and had a 2-0 lead and extended that lead to 3-0 by early in the second and I think shots were basically even at the time. Montreal’s advantage came with them in desperation mode.

*The Stars did a pretty good job defensively and Kari Lehtonen was excellent in goal. He had a real strong game. He had some nice saves in some scrambles around the net.

*The Stars won the special teams battle… again. They got a big shorthanded goal from Jamie Benn that made it a 2-0 game and then a power play goal that extended the lead to 4-1 after Montreal had finally gotten on the scoreboard. They gave up a shorthanded goal and give credit to Brian Gionta, who scored a great shot.

*Two more points for Loui Eriksson, who had a goal and an assist. He’s got points in four straight games now (3 goals, 5 assists). He’s now tied for 10th in the league in scoring with 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists). He could have had another goal if not for a great save by Carey Price midway through the second period;

*Steve Ott had a big night, assisting on the first two goals that gave the Stars early command in this game. He showed some nice patience on the first one to let Adam Burish get to the front of the net and Burish ended up tipping Ott’s shot into the net.

*The defense had a productive night offensively. Karlis Skrastins scored a goal that finished a nice shift on his part. Stephane Robidas had three assists. When you throw in an assist by Matt Niskanen, the defensemen as a group chipped in five points.

*The power play continues to produce. It was 1-2 Tuesday and has scored in six straight games. It’s 7-26 (26.9%) during that stretch. The penalty kill was 4-4 and has not allowed a power play goal in 10 of the last 16 games. It’s 48-54 (88.9%) over those 16 games. Special teams are a big part of the overall equation and both parts of it are working for the Stars right now.

*Overall, a lot of things are going right for the Stars. They aren’t giving up a lot, the goaltending has been excellent, the special teams play has been good and the Stars are getting goals from their top guns and the occasional goal from a role player or a defenseman. They swap out a couple of players each game and nothing really changes. It’s just a good team effort from a team playing a lot of confidence right now.