Canadiens vs. Stars, Oct. 22, 2022: Five things you should know

Allen hasn’t missed a beat, the team is stacked on defence, and the PK has been excellent. But the Stars have started their season strong.

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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Stars game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., Citytv, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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The matchup: The Canadiens are coming off a decisive 6-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. That improved Montreal’s record to 3-2 on the season and the Canadiens are unbeaten in three home games. This is the third game in a four-game homestand for the Canadiens, who are home to Minnesota on Tuesday. A win over the Stars would give Montreal its first three-game win streak since Feb. 26. But Dallas is off to a strong start. The Stars won their first three games before beginning a four-game road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Thursday.

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Allen back in form: Jake Allen, who took some time off earlier this week to with his wife, Shannon, when she gave birth to the couple’s third daughter, was back between the pipes Thursday and made 26 saves against the Coyotes. Allen improved his record to 2-1-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage, which ranks ninth in the NHL. Look for Jake Oettinger to get the start for the Stars after getting a night off in Toronto. He has a perfect 3-0 record, is tied for the best GAA at 1.00 and ranks third in save percentage at .966.

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Tough decisions ahead: The play of the Canadiens’ young defencemen means coach Martin St. Louis will have some tough decisions to make when Joel Edmundson and Mike Matheson are healthy. Rookie Kaiden Guhle has found a homer alongside David Savard. Jordan Harris has impressed with his steady play, and the biggest surprise has been undrafted Arber Xhekaj. He solidified his status as a fan favourite by beating up Zack Kassian in a one-sided fight that went viral on YouTube. In addition to fighting, Xhekaj can skate and move the puck and his steadily increasing ice time is a sign St. Louis likes what he sees.

Specialty items: The Canadiens’ penalty kill continued its fine play Thursday. Facing one of the strongest power plays in the league, the Canadiens were a perfect 3-for-3 on the kill and the PK produced a goal when Nick Suzuki was hooked by Clayton Keller on a shorthanded breakaway and scored on the resulting penalty shot. The Canadiens have allowed only one power-play goal this season and rank sixth in the NHL with a success rate of 93.3 per cent.

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The other guys: Mason Marchment, who at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds is the type of physical forward who gives the Canadiens trouble, is the Stars’ leading scorer with three goals and three assists. Veteran Tyler Seguin and Roope Hintz have each chipped in with two goals and three assists and Dallas boasts an above-average power play with a success rate of 28.6 per cent. If you’re looking for someone with the size to challenge Xhekaj, you don’t to look any farther than Jani Hakanpaa, who is 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, but it’s unlikely the Finn will drop the gloves. He’s already had one fight this season and the best he could manage was a draw against  Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot. 

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