The Montreal Canadiens and the Dallas Stars will both be gunning for a victory on Wednesday when they meet at American Airlines Center.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Dallas Stars
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, RDS (Montreal), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
PREDICTION: Stars 3, Canadiens 2
Odds aren’t yet posted for this game, so check back later for the opening line and total.
DALLAS — The Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars meet Wednesday night at American Airlines Center with both clubs seeking closure of some sort.
Montreal (23-9-6), which won 2-1 in overtime at Nashville on Tuesday, looks to finish its current seven-game road trip strong.
The Canadiens, who are 8-6-4 on the road, are 2-3-0 with two games remaining on their current trek which concludes Saturday in Toronto.
Tuesday’s game against the Predators marked the first contest in Nashville for Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber since he was traded to Montreal last summer. Weber was moved during a first-period video tribute and ended up scoring the tying goal early in the third period.
“Obviously, it’s very special to be back in this building, and it’s even more special to win the game,” Weber told the media postgame.
This is the Canadiens’ seventh back-to-back this season and Montreal is 5-1-0 in the second game of its previous back-to-backs.
Carey Price started in goal Tuesday and stopped 22 shots.
Considering his rather light workload Tuesday, Canadiens coach Michael Thierren could go with Price again between the pipes or he could turn to backup netminder Al Montoya to start against the Stars.
The Stars (16-15-7) look to finish a three-game homestand and a run where they played eight of their last nine on home ice with a victory.
The Stars last played Saturday night, when they fell 3-1 to the Florida Panthers at home. Florida blitzed Dallas for three goals in the first period and the Stars never recovered.
But the big story from that loss was that captain Jamie Benn injured his foot after the stick of Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk got caught in his skate as he assisted on the Stars goal, scored by Patrick Eaves in the second period.
The Dallas players had Sunday off and Benn was unable to skate Monday or Tuesday, so Stars coach Lindy Ruff ruled his captain out for the lone visit of the regular season from the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.
“Well, the only update is he’s still day-to-day, but he won’t play tomorrow. Didn’t practice today, so we’re still treating it as day-to-day,” Ruff said Tuesday of Benn.
Dallas, which is 11-6-3 at home, dealt with a rash of injuries for much of this season, so Ruff has considerable experience at juggling his lines and finding players to step in for their injured teammates.
Of course, few of those players are a former Art Ross Trophy winner or perennial NHL All-Star such as Benn. But again, Ruff takes the cards he’s dealt and makes the best of what everyone close to the organization hopes is a short-term situation with Benn on the sidelines.
“Again, we’re going to have to find ways to win games,” Ruff said. “There’s a lot of injuries around the league. We’ve been hit hard with them and Jamie’s another one, but we have to plug a guy in his spot. We’ve got some guys that are coming back now, so someone’s going to have to pick up the slack for him.”
And one of those players returning is gritty forward Antoine Roussel, out the previous four games with an upper-body injury.
However, Roussel practiced without issue Tuesday, leading Ruff to term him as probable for Wednesday’s contest.
“I am not sure if I am in tomorrow, but I am pretty close to a return,” Roussel said. “It’s just about getting some physical contact and getting there. I feel pretty good, skated pretty well. Really hoping to come back tomorrow, if not then the next game.”
As for this stretch of games at home, Dallas went 4-2-1 and veteran center Jason Spezza speaks for the entire room when he says they’d definitely like to end this run of games mostly at home on a high with a win.
“Yeah, we talked about trying to make up some ground,” Spezza said. “We have and now we have a chance to finish with a sixth win. It’d be good for our confidence for sure.”