After outscoring their opponents 13-2 in the previous two games, the Dallas Stars found themselves on the other end of a lopsided score, falling 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs seemed to control the flow of most of the game and were able to make the most out of their scoring opportunities, and won most of the special teams matchups.
The Stars meanwhile managed 40 shots on net but were only able to net a single goal against (surprise surprise) a backup goaltender: Maple Leafs goalie Curtis McElhinney. Dallas will enter the All-Star break with a 28-28-4 record.
The game started a bit slow, with a lot of back and forth between the two teams. Neither was able to establish a presence in the opposing zone until about halfway through the first period, with low shot counts by both squads. Around the 8 minute mark, Jamie Benn came streaking down the left side and sniped a shot to the top right corner, but it was snatched up by McElhinney.
Both the Toronto and Dallas then started to get some quality chances, with a brief period of chaos in front of Ben Bishop and a trio of decent chances by the Stars’ top line. But it would be the Leafs that capitalized on their chances: Mattias Jamark coughed up a pass in the neutral zone, leading to a Patrick Marleau breakaway. The puck eventually found it’s way to Mitch Marner, who was able to slide the puck over to Nazim Kadri who then potted the first goal of the night.
The period ended with a Too Many Men penalty by Toronto with about 16 seconds left, and the Stars would enter the locker room down by one.
Score: Toronto 1, Dallas 0
Shots: Toronto 8, Dallas 8
The period began with a scoring chance on the Power Play, but it was the wrong team: the Leafs got a 2 on 1 breakaway, though John Klingberg was able to stop an attempted pass across and Bishop made a save on the following shot. The Stars get a chance or two, but the Power Play eventually ended and Mitch Marner came out of the box. That’s where things took a turn for the work: Marner was able to streak down the ice and get a shot on Bishop, who is unable to get a hold of it. Zach Hyman recovered the rebound and shot the puck straight into the net to put the Maple Leafs up 2-0.
Shortly after the goal, Dan Hamhuis took a minor holding penalty. The Leafs got a few quality scoring chances, including a dangerous scenario where Pateryn had to clear a puck that was behind Bishop, but fail to score despite 5 shots on net. Not long later, Antoine Roussel bumped Connor Carrick into the Toronto net, knocking it loose, and the two proceed to throw down the gloves.
The two teams proceeded to trade some decent scoring chances, including a Benn shot that hit McElhinney’s pad but might have gone in if it was a bit higher. About 9 minutes in Remi Elie gets sent to the box for tripping, and a bizarre sequence of deflections saw the puck go from Nazem Kadri to off of Mattias Janmark’s stick to potentially off of Dan Hamhuis’s to sliding between Bishop’s legs and into the net.
The Stars got a 2 on 1 breakaway a couple minutes later, with John Klingberg sliding the puck across to Mattias Janmark, but McK was able to stretch his leg out and make the save. The Maple Leafs took a Delay of Game penalty with a bit less than 6 minutes left in the period, but the only quality scoring chance on the Power Play was another Maple Leafs breakaway, which was thankfully saved through the combined efforts of Janmark and Ben Bishop.
An Esa Lindell shot with about 2 minutes left hit Jamie Benn in the head, but luckily only hit the helmet and the captain was okay. Off of the faceoff, Alexander Radulov got a hold of the puck and moved behind the net. He then slid the puck back in front to Tyler Seguin, who was able to one-time it into the top right corner for the Stars first goal of the night. The Leafs got one final chance in the last minute of play, but an early whistle by the referee saved a potential goal and the Stars finished the period trailing by 2.
Score: Toronto 3, Dallas 1
Shots: Toronto 23, Dallas 23
The start of the final period didn’t look too much better than the previous 40 minutes of play. Another neutral zone turnover led to another Toronto breakaway less than 3 minutes in, and William Nylander passed the puck over the Auston Matthews for a top shelf goal to put the Leafs up by 3 again.
Now firmly behind, the Stars started to put more pressure on the Maple Leafs, generating a lot more shots on goal but without much success. The two traded a pair of offensive rushes about midway through the period, but both Bishop and McElhinney were able to make the saves without being challenged too much.
Tyler Pitlick was able to draw an interference penalty with a little more than 7 minutes left, and the Stars proceeded to get several quality scoring chances from Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg. Unfortunately, the Stars weren’t able to convert, and while they were able to generate a few more shots in the final minutes, they ultimately came up short.
Final Score: Toronto 4, Dallas 1
Final Shots: Toronto 29, Dallas 40