MONTREAL - After a sub-par effort in Philadelphia two days ago, the Stars shored things up and put on an exciting show in the hockey-charged city of Montreal. Unfortunately, the ugly road result stayed the same.
The Canadiens' top-ranked power-play unit accounted for two man-advantage goals -- with both coming off the stick of Brian Gionta -- and goalie Carey Price finished with 33 saves to send the Stars to their ninth straight loss away from home with a 5-3 defeat at Bell Centre on Thursday night.
Toby Petersen, Steve Ott and Mike Modano scored for snakebit Dallas, which hasn't won on foreign ice since a 3-2 shootout victory at San Jose on Dec. 11.
"We're doing a lot of good things, and we have for a long time, but the overall team defense has to be better," said goalie Marty Turco, who finished with 23 saves after allowing five goals on 19 shots to the Flyers before being yanked in favor of Alex Auld. "That starts with myself. I have to start making better saves to give these guys a chance to win hockey games."
The game was revved up from the start, and Dallas seemed poised to break out with a much-needed victory. Instead, the Stars wound up with nothing to show for an effort that was one of their best in a while.
Grasping for anything to get his team going, head coach Marc Crawford aggressively juggled his lines, and threw winger Jamie Benn into the pivot between Jere Lehtinen and James Neal. Benn had never played center before, but held his own against the speedy Canadiens lineup.
Crawford also manufactured a line that featured Petersen teaming with Modano and Krystofer Barch. The threesome combined for four shots, and were able to put consistent pressure in the Canadiens end.
But ultimately the game came down to timely goals by Montreal. After falling behind by a 2-1 score after the first 20 minutes, the Canadiens turned things around in the second period by netting a pair of goals to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the third period.
Dallas wound up outshooting Montreal by a 12-7 margin in the final frame, but Gionta and Mike Cammalleri scored the deciding goals.
Gionta snapped the third-period deadlock when he banged home a rebound on the power play from in tight at 7:14, and Cammalleri iced it with his 21st of the season with 3:19 to go.
Benoit Pouliot had a goal and assist, Georges Laraque also scored, and Cammalleri added an assist for the Canadiens, who've won two of three.
Down by a goal after the first period, the Canadiens tied it 2-2 when Laraque scored his first of the season just under 3 minutes into the second period. From in front, Laraque's first attempt went off Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric's skate, but he was able to deposit his own rebound past a prone Turco.
Montreal took its first lead with 13:16 left in the second when Pouliot made it 3-2. Pouliot was the beneficiary of a bad turnover by defenseman Matt Niskanen in front of the Stars net, and the Canadiens' left wing lifted a backhand over Turco's left shoulder.
Modano tied it at 3-3 with his seventh with just over 4 minutes left in the middle frame. Skating hard to the front of the net, Modano picked up a loose puck in the slot and immediately wristed a shot that eluded Price.
Petersen opened the scoring with his fifth of the season 8:25 into the first period. After chipping the puck past Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov at the Stars blue line, Petersen embarked on a 2-on-1 rush with Mike Modano, and then whipped a shot through Price's legs from the right circle.
The Canadiens No. 1 ranked power play struck to tie it when Gionta potted his 11th with less than 8 minutes left in the first. From the low slot, he quickly one-timed a feed from Scott Gomez, who was in the right corner.
The Stars regained their lead with a power-play goal of their own when Ott notched his 10th of the season to make it 2-1 with 4:52 remaining in the opening stanza. Standing in front of Price, Ott was able to get a piece of Stephane Robidas' blast from the middle of the blue line.
The Stars return home to open a short two-game homestand on Saturday when they host the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center at 1 p.m. (my27). Detroit has been struggling this year, and entering Thursday's action were on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.
The Red Wings were handed a 6-0 pasting by the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
-- LW Fabian Brunnstrom returned to the lineup after being recalled from Texas of the AHL on Wednesday. Center Brian Sutherby and forward Warren Peters were scratched. It was Brunnstrom's first game since Dec. 21.
-- The Stars made their first trip to Montreal since Jan. 2006. They haven't won there since Nov. 2002.
-- Modano's goal was the 550th of his NHL career. He snapped a seven-game goal-less drought with the tally.
-- There were only two minor penalties called through the first two periods, and seven overall.
--Turco dropped to 2-3 with a tie lifetime against Montreal.
-- Ott's goal snapped a six-game stretch in which Dallas hadn't scored with the man advantage.
-- It's the longest losing streak on the road for the Stars since moving to Dallas in 1993.
1 - 0 DAL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL