Sports

Habs host Stars seeking perfect homestand

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to put the finishing touches on a perfect homestand on Tuesday when they emerge from the NHL All- Star break to host the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens, who are third in the Atlantic Division, began the homestand in impressive fashion by beating a pair of first-place teams.

Montreal downed the New York Islanders, leaders of the Metropolitan Division, by a 6-4 score on Jan. 17 before picking up an overtime win last Tuesday against the Central-leading Nashville Predators. The consecutive victories pushed the Habs' home record to 15-5-2.

"Our goal remains the same. We're always battling for a playoff spot," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien told his team's website on Monday. "I like the way our team prepares for every game this season. Playing in the NHL is a demanding job, but our guys put the work in and we're looking forward to locking down a playoff spot."

P.K. Subban's power-play goal 4:08 into overtime sent the Canadiens to a 2-1 win over the Predators. The star defenseman scored on a one-timer from the point with Predators center Craig Smith in the box on a tripping penalty.

Alex Galchenyuk tied the score for Montreal 2:02 into the third period, also on a power play. Carey Price, who missed the previous two games with an upper- body injury, made 36 saves in the win.

The Canadiens have won three of four and boast a 12-3-1 record over the last 16 games.

Montreal will visit the New York Rangers on Thursday before returning to the Bell Centre for a four-game homestand. The residency is set to begin Saturday afternoon against Washington.

The Stars had a two-game win streak halted before the break, falling 3-1 in last Tuesday's home clash against the Boston Bruins. Vernon Fiddler supplied Dallas' lone goal and Kari Lehtonen allowed all three goals on 27 shots.

Dallas forward Erik Cole left the game with an upper-body injury, and is expected to miss tonight's tilt.

The Stars, who sit four points out of a playoff spot in the West, are beginning a three-game road trip tonight and will also visit Ottawa and Winnipeg before completing the swing. Dallas is 10-8-2 as the road team this season.

"I really like the way we've been playing, and we've been playing well for a good stretch," Stars coach Lindy Ruff recently told his team's web site. "That last loss at home hurt, but I felt we had the edge in play. We've been moving our way up, and we've got to keep on moving."

Tonight's test marks the season finale between the Habs and Stars. Dallas halted a two-game slide in the matchup with a 4-1 home win on Dec. 6. Montreal has still won three of the last four encounters on home ice.

Lehtonen only needed to make 16 saves for last month's victory over the Habs and he improved to 8-6-1 with a 2.50 goals against average in his career against Montreal.

Price is 4-4-0 with a 3.02 GAA in eight lifetime outings against the Stars.