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National Hockey League
Toronto 3, Dallas 1
When: 7:30 PM ET, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Referees: Eric Furlatt, Garrett Rank
Linesmen: Scott Cherrey, John Grandt
Attendance: 19233

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs had allowed 22 goals in their four previous games, losing three of them.

It was not necessarily a goaltending problem, but after losing 6-5 in overtime to the New York Islanders on Monday night, backup goalie Curtis McElhinney replaced Frederik Andersen on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars.

McElhinney made 39 saves, defenseman Jake Gardiner had a goal and an assist and the Maple Leafs defeated the Stars 3-1.

"(McElhinney) is a good pro," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "He gets on the ice first, he works hard every single day. So when it's his turn, it's not lucky that he's good. He's earned the right to play good and feel good about himself. He's a great example."

McElhinney, a 33-year-old who was picked up on waivers from Columbus on Jan. 10, was making his fourth appearance for the Maple Leafs after playing seven games with the Blue Jackets this season.

"I think, especially in front of our net, we did a much better job tonight," McElhinney said. "Most of the shots were generated from the outside and I thought the guys battled real hard inside."

He deflected the praise when asked about the number of saves he mad.

"Yeah, it's one of those things," he said. "You just want to be big in there and pucks were hitting me. The rebounds were there, too, but the guys were doing a good job of clearing it out. I felt pretty comfortable the whole game."

Auston Matthews and Nikita Zaitsev also scored for the Maple Leafs (25-17-10).

Tyler Seguin scored for the Stars, who lost their third game in a row. Dallas (21-23-10) got 31 saves from goaltender Antii Niemi.

"It has been missed opportunities," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We've had the looks, we did a good job on entries, we had good zone time, we just haven't connected on some of the prime opportunities. … There's one every game where we could have turned the tide, but we haven't been able to do it. That's probably been the biggest thing."

The Maple Leafs led 1-0 when Gardiner wired a shot from just inside the blue line at 9:09 of the first period for his seventh goal of the season. Mitch Marner made the pass to Gardiner.

Toronto's Nazem Kadri was assessed two minor penalties at 18:02 of the first period for hooking and cross-checking, but the Stars could not take advantage of the four-minute power play.

Dallas also killed off two penalties in the second period.

The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead at 17:32 of the second period when Matthews tipped in Gardiner's shot from the left point for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.

Gardiner said the Maple Leafs’ defensive play was the key.

"Yeah, that was big," he said. "It starts in the neutral zone coming back, making easy plays, breaking the puck out fast. When we're in the D-zone -- blocking shots, boxing guys out. Obviously (McElhinney) played a heck of a game so that was great."

The Stars scored a power-play goal at 4:00 of the third period when Seguin fired home his 20th of the season from the slot with Toronto's Zach Hyman serving a holding penalty.

Toronto had a two-man advantage when Dallas' Cody Eakins was penalized for cross-checking at 4:53 and Adam Cracknell was sent off for goaltender interference at 5:47 of the third.

Dallas was again two men short with Radek Faksa going off at 6:57 for delay of game for putting his hand on the puck on a faceoff, a call the Stars disputed.

This time, Toronto took advantage, scoring at 7:29 on a shot by Zaitsev from the top edge of the right faceoff circle. It was the defenseman's second goal of the season.

"We had our chances to score," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "We had our power play, too, and didn't score. We've got to look at ourselves in the mirror, too."

Niemi was removed for an extra attacker with 3:09 to play.

"The other teams are getting timely goals and we're not," Dallas defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "We've been finding ways to lose by taking penalties. Our penalty kill has been a lot better as of late and has been holding us in there, but we have to kill two or three minutes of five-on-three, that's hard to hold. They got the goal and really sunk us."

NOTES: Toronto G Frederik Andersen, who has played in 43 games this season, did not start Tuesday after allowing six goals in the overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. He gave up three goals on eight shots on Jan. 31 in a 6-3 loss to Dallas before being replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who started Tuesday. ... Dallas RW Jiri Hudler played in his first game since Jan. 19. ... The Stars were without C Jason Spezza (upper-body injury), who was put on injured reserve Saturday. ... The Maple Leafs, who completed a 2-3-1 road trip Monday, play the second of four straight home games on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. ... The Stars play their next game on Thursday when they visit the Ottawa Senators
Top Game Performances
 
Dallas   Toronto
Tyler Seguin 1 Points Jake Gardiner 2
Tyler Seguin 1 Goals Jake Gardiner 1
Cody Eakin 1 Assists Jake Gardiner 1
Tyler Seguin 1 Power Play Goals Nikita Zaitsev 1
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Antti Niemi .912 Save Percentage Curtis McElhinney .975
Antti Niemi 31 Saves Curtis McElhinney 39
Team Stats Summary
 
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Dallas 40 1 1-4 4-5 10 31
Toronto 34 3 1-5 3-4 8 33
Upcoming Games
  • Toronto will play their next game at home against St. Louis. The Maple Leafs have a W/L % of .458 after a win and .500 after a loss.
  • Dallas will play their next game on the road against Ottawa. The Stars have a W/L % of .227 after a win and .500 after a loss.