Dallas Stars’ Matt Niskanen (left), Mike Ribeiro (centre) and captain Brenden Morrow celebrate Ribeiro’s third-period goal against the Canadiens.
Mike Stone, Reuters
Updated at 10:45 pm with Carbonneau audio
The Canadiens remain 0-for-the-21st-century on Dec. 23 – and more than half of the 20th century, for that matter.
Hoping to break a road skid on this date that goes back to 1945, the Habs came up against a very good, unfailingly effective and highly opportunistic Dallas Stars squad tonight and deservedly lost 4-1.
It was the Canadiens’ second loss in as many nights after having won three straight. Head coach Guy Carbonneau said his team lacked emotion and expressed disappointment in the effort that was furnished. Carbonneau added that a team always wants to head into the Christmas break on a good note, but said, "We were never in the game."
Former Canadien Mike Ribeiro, the enigmatic talent who was run out of town on a rail before the start of last season, had a third-period goal on a Roman Hamrlik giveaway and two first-period assists, helping out on the tallies of Antti Miettinen and captain Brenden Morrow – the latter Carbonneau’s son-in-law.
It was the nightmare scenario feared by Canadiens fans. Not only would their team lose to Dallas, but Ribeiro, the game’s first star, would play a significant role in the result.
Ribeiro has eight goals and seven assists in his last eight games, and with 19 goals is just one short of his career-best set with the Canadiens in 2003-04. And we’re just at the Christmas break.
Stu Barnes added Dallas’ fourth goal at 3:11 of the third period, coming on the Stars’ 19th shot against Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov, having pinched untouched to Stars goalie Marty Turco’s crease, slammed home a pass from Sergei Kostitsyn at 13:35 of the third for his ninth of the season to finally put Montreal on the scoresheet.
The Habs had 18 shots on Turco; the Stars managed 21 on Price.
Most of the Canadiens returned home after the game to spend Christmas with family, while about a half-dozen headed east to Florida, where the team will reassemble on Thursday for their game that night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price follows the play in the corner against Dallas.
Glenn James, NHLI via Getty Images