The Last meeting between the Stars and Leafs was an action-packed matchup that favored the Leafs. The big boys in Tavares, Matthews, Benn, and Seguin dominated that game. Tonight though, this game was dominated by elite goaltending. Since the Maple Leafs loss Auston Matthews to a shoulder injury, their offense has had its troubles. The Leafs have now been relying heavily on goaltender Frederik Andersen to save them. Although tonight, Andersen wasn’t the savior of the game. That honor belongs to his counterpart, Anton Khudobin.
The first period began with Dallas simply being outplayed. But they were once again saved by some splendid goaltending, this time from Anton Khudobin. It seems as if Dallas had luck on their side as their netminder himself was even bailed out by the crossbar. It was during the Leafs power play where John Tavares slowed up from the left face-off circle and wrung it off the post. The Maple Leafs tried to keep up that pressure but continued to be denied by the brick wall that was Khudobin. Dallas eventually gained some momentum towards the end of the first, but Andersen was also stout in net, to keep Dallas off the scoreboard.
As the second period began not much changed in terms of puck control. Dallas was held down in the shot column and Toronto controlled much of the pace. Then the tough fore-checking of Val Nichushkin led to a rare mistake from the Maple Leafs that gave Dallas their first power-play. The Stars maintained pressure on Toronto for a majority of the power-play. It was because of this puck possession that Dallas was able to strike first. The Stars’ Jamie Benn then redirected a shot from Seguin that went five-hole on Anderson. Shortly after that, the Stars got another power-play but were lucky that the score remained at one-to-nothing. The Leafs’ Mitch Marner got a golden opportunity on a shorthanded breakaway, but Khudobin robbed him with a beautiful save.
Anton Khudobin was the best player in the third period. However, Devin Shore deserves a lot of credit. Early in the third Shore cushioned the Stars lead by tipping in a tic-tac-toe pass from Seguin and Janmark. However, a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. Late in the third, the Stars went on the penalty kill once again because of Brett Ritchie’s third penalty of the night. The Maple Leafs then decided to pull Andersen to give them a six on four advantage. Shortly into the power play, Patrick Marleau’s scored off of a rebound to pull Toronto within one. Then with about two minutes left, the Leafs once again pulled Andersen. This is where Khudobin stole the game for Dallas. Khudobin staved off the final flurry of shots from the Leafs and even made a split save to reject Marner’s bid.
The Stars have now won two straight road games. This is also their first win in Toronto since Modano and Turco dawned a Stars’ uniform. Winning in Toronto was an important win for Dallas. Even though the Maple Leafs are missing Matthews, they are still an elite team with a strong offense. This victory proves the Stars can compete with playoff teams, even away from the AAC. The offensive player of the night was Devin Shore. The Toronto native has been the most impressive player so far on this road trip. Tonight Shore got his opportunity to play on the top line and he proved that he belonged there by scoring the game-winning goal.
The Stars head to D.C. to face the defending cup champions Washington Capitals.
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