In what was a tough game for the Toronto Maple Leafs to generate offence, the Dallas Stars took advantage of mistakes to come away with the win.
With Frederik Andersen making his return from a four-game absence you would have expected the Toronto Maple Leafs to give their starter a chance out of the gate.
Instead, a giveaway in the defensive zone led to the first shot on net which squeezed through Andersen’s five-hole. For the rest of the opening period, the Leafs only managed three shots on goal while the Dallas Stars had six, not exactly an exhilarating 20 minutes to watch.
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Unfortunately, it didn’t get any better as a turnover at the blueline saw Radek Faksa go in alone on Andersen after Auston Matthews failed to bat the breakaway pass out of the air. Fortunately, the Leafs leading goal scorer would make up for it.
After going a couple of games without a goal, Matthews would not be denied with the Leafs on the man advantage as Matthews would rip a shot past Ben Bishop to put him back in a tie with David Pastrnak for the league lead with 41 on the season. Not only did it establish a new career-high for Matthews but it also leads to another important point.
The Leafs struggled for a good part of the game and Kyle Clifford decided to give the team an energy boost by challenging Jamie Oleksiak to a fight. Whether or not you agree with fighting and its place in the game, but you can’t deny the reaction that the tilt brought not only to the players on the ice but the crowd.
This doesn’t mean that the Leafs need a player like Clifford to fight every game and he shouldn’t but that is what the Leafs were expecting when they brought the veteran over from the L.A. Kings. Unfortunately, that momentum was short-lived when a penalty early in the third period led to a slump-busting goal by Tyler Seguin.
Zach Hyman‘s goal gave the Leafs a chance to salvage a point but the Stars defence was able to keep the Leafs off the board and taking away a chance to add to their lead over the Florida Panthers who lost to the New Jersey Devils.
The Leafs will now have another chance for what should be an easier back-to-back against the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres and even though no win is a guarantee, there should be an urgency for the Leafs to eliminate any doubt with a big win.
What stood out to you in the loss? How important will this weekend be to put some points in the standings? Let us know in the comments below.