John Klingberg scored his second of the night late in overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 4-3 road win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Montreal’s (16-37-8) goal scorers were Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Corey Schueneman while Radek Faksa and Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas (32-23-3).
Both teams got out to a quick start, exchanging golden opportunities, with the Canadiens testing Jake Oettinger early.
“This year our goalie’s making saves and we’re getting huge goals,” said head coach Rick Bowness. “That game could’ve been 3-0 five minutes in. Jake was fantastic.”
The first of those chances belonged to Christian Dvorak who was left all alone on the doorstep but couldn’t get it over Oettinger’s outstretched pad. The same save was needed again only minutes later to deny Mike Hoffman from opening the scoring.
The chances kept coming for both teams as it was Michael Raffle’s turn to force Jake Allen into a sensational desperation glove save only three minutes later.
With just over a minute left in the first period, the deadlock was finally broken when a loose puck found its way to Faksa who slid the puck past a helpless Allen.
“I had loads of chances before, but when you haven’t scored in so long, you’re not really comfortable with it,” said Faksa, who broke a four-month scoring drought tonight. “It felt like forever. Hopefully I’ll never have that long without a goal again.”
Montreal finally got their power play working halfway through the second when Suzuki spotted Caufield with a cross-ice pass, tying the game at one with the rookie’s 12th of the season.
Dallas began to ramp up the pressure as the second period wound down and would strike back on the power play with five minutes left. Benn picked up a rebound from the end boards and managed to squeeze the puck through Allen’s legs.
Montreal came out of the second intermission with even more speed, however, pinning the Stars back in their zone for entire shifts at a time.
“Their speed is very impressive,” said Bowness. “They have a high skill level and they really come at you. What I really like was how we bounced back after a bad game in Toronto.”
After both teams traded ineffective power plays, the Canadiens used their speed advantage while playing four-on-four. Caufield and Suzuki linked up once again, with Suzuki netting his 17th of the season.
Montreal continued their domination of the third period as Schueneman’s shot from the point surprised Oettinger, giving Montreal the lead, and prompting the Bell Centre crowd to erupt.
Just as quickly as the Canadiens’ lead had manifested, it was gone when confusion at their defensive blue line left Klingberg all alone in the slot, tying the game at three once again.
“It was just a huge goal,” said Klingberg, who broke the franchise record for most game-winning goals by a Stars defenceman. “We had to step up more but that’s from the whole D-core.”
With less than two minutes to play in regulation, Joel Armia was called for goaltender interference, giving Dallas a four-on-three advantage heading into overtime.
After it resulted in nothing, Klingberg found himself in the box after hooking Mike Hoffman.
The Czech defenceman made up for it by jumping at a loose puck in the slot with ten seconds left in the game, securing a vital two points in Dallas’s hunt for a wildcard playoff spot.
“The fans got their money’s worth, and we got our two points,” said Bowness. “We knew we were playing well, and we knew we were going to get more opportunities. Three (losses) in a row is enough and we needed this one tonight and we got it.”
Both teams are back in action on March 19 as Dallas heads off to New York to play the Islanders while Montreal plays host to the Ottawa Senators.