By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — One bright spot for the Dallas Stars this season is their strong play at American Airlines Center.
That continued on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens as the Stars got a goal and an assist each from Tyler Seguin and Devin Shore, and Ben Bishop stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 3-1 win.
Dallas (11-9-1), which also got a goal from Jason Spezza, improved to 8-2-0 at home.
“I thought the game was great. It was a playoff game, and two desperate teams,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. “They had a little momentum at the start. They had us checking them, and we took over for a lot of the second (period) and then they pushed hard in the third. That’s playoff hockey.”
Brendan Gallagher had the lone goal for Montreal (8-12-2), which lost its fourth straight.
Following a scoreless opening period, Gallagher gave the visitors the lead when he scored his ninth goal of the season off a rebound with 7:56 remaining in the middle frame and Montreal on the power play. Bishop turned away Charles Hudon’s one-timed slap shot from the high slot, but Gallagher alertly poked the puck across the line.
“Our best players have to be our best players, it’s as simple as that,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
Dallas responded with two unanswered goals within 59 seconds to lead 2-1 after 40 minutes. With 1:38 remaining in the second, Shore scored his second of the season off the rush from the left circle after receiving a great pass from John Klingberg in transition.
“I think the puck possession was good,” Shore said. “Guys were hanging onto it and we were winning the loose pucks and guys were supporting each other. When you’re winning loose pucks and guys are supporting each other, you notice you have more time to make plays.”
Spezza gave the Stars their first lead when he scored his third goal of the season off a rebound 39 seconds before the second intermission. Charlie Lindgren, who stopped 26 of 28 shots, turned away Seguin’s initial shot, but Spezza scored after the puck deflected off the near post before going in.
It was the ninth time this season that Montreal conceded multiple goals in one minute or less.
“It’s very hard to explain,” Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said of that disturbing trend. “I get asked about it every day, and if there was an answer, then someone would have it, but everyone will probably have their own opinion on it, so I’ll just I guess leave it at that.”
The Stars could have scored three times in the second, but Seguin’s wrist shot on a breakaway with 6:19 remaining went wide left of the Montreal goal.
Lindgren left the ice with 1:45 remaining in the game, but even with the extra attacker, the Canadiens were unable to find the equalizer. Lindgren briefly returned to the crease with 1:20 to go but left a second time with 1:00 remaining.
“I thought tonight (I) played well,” Lindgren said. “I gave the team a chance to win, but at the end of the day, it’s a loss and now it’s three in a row or whatever it is. We got to turn that around.”
Seguin added an empty-net goal on his backhand with 27 seconds to go, his ninth goal of the season.
Dallas also cleared two potential Montreal goals from the crease, one by Gemel Smith early in the second period and another by Stephen Johns in the third.
Both teams complete a back-to-back on Wednesday, with Montreal playing at Nashville and Dallas playing at Colorado.
“I think right now it’s a four-point game tomorrow,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a division game. We’ve got to win division games if we want to be a playoff team, and we’ve got a rested opponent. We’re going to have to go in there and play well. We played very well the last time in there. We’re going to have to follow it up with a similar effort.”