The Dallas Stars exploded for five first-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. The outburst tied a franchise record for goals in the opening 20 minutes, set way back in 1988.
“I think our first periods have been something we’ve talked about, trying to get the lead with that first goal,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve gotten behind in too many games. To get those goals early was a big bonus for us.”
Might be the celebration of the year. pic.twitter.com/MeTax5pjHJ
— NHL (@NHL) February 1, 2017
Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen entered the contest riding a two-game shutout streak. He lasted just over 11 minutes, earning the hook from coach Mike Babcock after allowing three goals on just eight shots. His replacement, Curtis McElhinney, went the rest of the way but didn’t fare much better, surrendering three more Stars goals on 12 shots.
Despite the Stars’ overwhelming first period, which ended with the home team leading 5-1, the Maple Leafs responded well in the second period, scoring twice while out-shooting their opponents 16-7.
The Leafs continued to pressure the Stars throughout the final 20 minutes, but goalie Kari Lehtonen stood tall in net and finished the night with 40 saves.
With the win, the Stars find themselves one point out of a playoff spot in the West, while the Leafs’ loss keeps them one point out in the East.
Stars forward Devin Shore opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game, hauling the puck down the right wing before making a power move around Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner and to the net.
Two minutes later, the Stars struck again. On the left wing this time, Shore put a shot on net and center Radek Faksa, in his first game back after missing the last two due to a lower-body injury, banged home the rebound.
Shortly after Faksa’s tally, Tyler Seguin sent a shot off the post. The Stars would not be denied, however, and a Lauri Korpikoski backhander ended Andersen’s night with 8:42 left in the period.
For a few minutes, the Leafs’ fortunes seemed to turn with the change of netminders. Stars center Cody Eakin was called for tripping, and Tyler Bozak redirected a feed from James van Riemsdyk past Lehtonen on the ensuing power play to put Toronto on the board.
The Maple Leafs took to the ice for the second period determined to redeem themselves. They were rewarded early when Stars rookie Julius Honka turned the puck over in his own zone and another rookie, Nikita Soshnikov, buried Honka’s mistake in the back of the net.
“I thought our biggest nemesis in the second period was the fact that we lost ninety percent of our faceoffs,” said Ruff, adding “I thought they got a little bit quick and got a little bit aggressive with the defense and they won a few more battles which enabled them to create a little pressure on us.”
After Lehtonen came up big with saves on Mitch Marner and William Nylander to preserve the Stars’ 5-2 lead, Seguin carried the puck around the Leafs’ net. His wraparound attempt failed, but linemate Jason Spezza backhanded the loose puck into the net for the home team’s final tally of the night.
Midway through the period, Marner let fly a wrister from the right faceoff circle to make the game interesting again for all parties.
McElhinney denied Patrick Eaves on a breakaway with under a minute remaining in the period to keep the score 6-3. Toronto led 30-19 in shots after two.
The home team began the final period with more jump and more purpose than in the middle frame. The Stars’ focus was on denying the visitors scoring chances rather than generating more of their own, as evidenced by the Leafs’ 13-1 shot advantage over the last 20 minutes.
Lehtonen continued his solid performance in net through the third period, making several big stops to maintain his team’s three-goal lead.
The Maple Leafs did get one puck over the line, but the goal was waived off upon video review after officials determined Soshnikov kicked the puck into the Dallas net.
Overhead view of Nikita Soshnikov’s disallowed “kicking motion” goal, isolated on the puck area. pic.twitter.com/ulhKQVaUy7
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 1, 2017
The Stars’ only shot on goal of the period came in the final minutes and was easily turned aside, ending the game with a period, rather than an exclamation mark.
DAL – Devin Shore (8) assisted by Dan Hamhuis (10)
DAL – Radek Faksa (7) assisted by Devin Shore (14) and Patrick Sharp (6)
DAL – Lauri Korpikoski (7) assisted by Brett Ritchie (6) and Dan Hamhuis (11)
TOR – Tyler Bozak (13) (PPG) assisted by James van Riemsdyk (23) and Mitch Marner (29)
DAL – Brett Ritchie (10) assisted by Julius Honka (4) and Adam Cracknell (3)
DAL – Jamie Benn (14) (PPG) assisted by John Klingberg (21) and Tyler Seguin (30)
TOR – Nikita Soshnikov (3) assisted by Matt Martin (3)
DAL – Jason Spezza (8) assisted by Tyler Seguin (31)
TOR – Mitch Marner (12) assisted by Nazem Kadri (16) and Nikita Zaitsev (20)
THW Three Stars
First: Devin Shore (1 goal, 1 assist)
Second: Brett Ritchie (1 goal, 1 assist)
Third: Kari Lehtonen (40 saves)
Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – 7:30 p.m. CST on Thursday, Feb. 2
Broadcast channels: FS-SW, TSN3
2016-17 Season Series: October 25 – Stars 3, Jets 2
October 27 – Jets 4, Stars 1
November 8 – Jets 8, Stars 2
Toronto Maple Leafs at St. Louis Blues
Scottrade Center – 8:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, Feb. 2
Broadcast channels: FS-MW, TSN4
2016-17 Season Series: First Meeting of the Season
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.