Gameday Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Dallas Stars (6:00pm CST)

The Dallas Stars hope to head into the Christmas break on a five-game win streak, but must deal with the league's top offense in Toronto.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: We inadvertently listed the start time of the game tonight as 7:30 p.m. The game will actually begin at 6 p.m. CST, so be sure to plan accordingly. Obviously...we did not. ;-)]

The Dallas Stars took care of business on their Western Canadian road swing, snagging sometimes unlikely victories against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks,- Whether through the exploits of Kari Lehtonen or the offensive fireworks of Tyler Seguin and friends

Their reward? The next four of five at home with a chance to extend their streak to five tonight, but the high-flying Leafs enter with the league's highest scoring offense while Dallas still regretfully boasts the league's worst GA/G at 3.38. Not a great combination.

The Stars needed a frenetic third-period rally in Edmonton on Sunday after allowing themselves to trail 5-2 in the late stages of the second. They'll try to keep things a little more grounded this evening, but they've had more than their fair share of challenges in front of the home crowd this year.

The Leafs won the first meeting between these two clubs quite handily at their place earlier this month (5-3), but the Stars have had pretty good luck with them here at the AAC over the last several years, posting a 4-0-1 record over the last five in Dallas.

Before losing 4-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday the Leafs had won five consecutive against Western Conference competition (Kings, Ducks, Flames, Canucks, Dallas). It's been a strong-suit for them, going 7-3-1 against the West overall, though they've yet to win one on the road.

After a 3-1 start the Leafs have lost six of their last eight on the road stretching back to November 4th. Since then they've enjoyed 15 home games versus the eight on the road- Now they pay it back with a lengthy seven-game road swing, 11 of 13 away from home overall.

When last these teams met they combined for 78 shots (40-38 in favor of Toronto), and that "high event" style continues for the Leafs. They've allowed 34, 42, 37, 42, 36, 28, 42, 33, 46, and 26 shots against in their games since, somehow incorporating a six-game win streak into that run.

That's nearly 37 shots surrendered per game in that stretch, sinking them to 27th at just over 34 SA/G for the entire season.

So there should be some scoring opportunities.

The Stars let an offensively-struggling Oiler team put five on them in two periods: These Leafs have scored just twice in their last six road periods. Will the Stars help them continue the trend, or reverse it as in Edmonton? After all, these leafs are the league's top offense at 3.29 goals per game.

Possible lineup:

van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel


Stephane Robidas was scratched in favor of Gardiner in Chicago, but there's some thought that he'll be back in the lineup tonight- Which would give Stars fans another chance to give him some love after the last attempt ended in injury during their first-round series with the Anaheim Ducks in April.

Jonathan Bernier was a problem for the Stars when he was in Los Angeles, and he'll likely try to continue to being so this evening in the Maple Leaf net.

From Stars PR:

Stars forward Jason Spezza comes into Tuesday's contest against Toronto with 57 points (18-39=57) in 57 career games against the Maple Leafs. Spezza notched a goal in the meeting earlier this season and and has a two-game goal streak against the Maple Leafs (2-0=2) along with points in four of his last five games (3-2=5). Spezza registered one assist on Sunday night in Edmonton and has earned four points (1-3=4) over his last five games. In 32 games this season, the Toronto, Ont. native ranks second on the team with 19 assists and third with 25 points (6-19=25).

The game starts tonight at... err... 6:00pm. For reasons that are surely related to Canadian television.