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Recap: Leafs win a beauty over the Stars 4-1

Nifty performances from Kadri and McElhinney lead the way.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars have scored a lot lately. Alexander Radulov in particular is on a multi-game pointstreak during which he has scored approximately eleventy-billion points. It’s the second half of a back to back, Maple Leafs are on the road and Curtis McElhinney’s in net. Why do I do this to myself?

(Okay so confession time, I do this to myself for a few reasons: I need Matt Martin to go after Antoine Roussel for injuring Reims a couple games ago (he can launch himself to the ice from the press box, it could happen), the Dallas Stars are one of my backup teams, and I have a crush on Tyler Seguin you can see from space. His dogs are also entirely adorable but unless something truly bizarre happens tonight I do not actually expect Marshall, Cash and Gary to be involved in the hockey game.)

Disclaimer: If you are expecting this recap to answer the question of who is on what line at what point in the game, you probably need to go find a good Leafs blog.

First period

Leafs start with possession, Dallas ices the puck. Matthews line against the Faksa line

Ron Hainsey with the first shot on Ben Bishop, as we all predicted.

For some reason the Bozak line rolls out against the Seguin line. It seems to work but I have no idea why, who on that line counts as “defensively responsible”?

Mitch Marner and Nazem Kadri combine for a chance but I’m sort of glad they didn’t score because I was fairly sure Patrick Marleau was offside when Marner brought it in,

This is fast, snappy hockey, pucks tape-to-tape and everyone zooming around the ice. So much fun to watch.

Leo Komarov with a weak shot but Ben Bishop decides to stop play.

Roman Polak might not have a ton else going for him but he’s got a damn heavy shot.

I’m actually really impressed with the Leafs thus far. Stars really aren’t spending much time in the Leafs zone and they’ve iced the puck more than a couple of times in the first seven minutes.

Marleau one on one with Esa Lindell and Lindell manages to get his stick in the way enough to deflect the shot.

Oof Jamie Benn fired one that looked dangerous but went wide. (Still weird that there’s only one Benn on the Stars.)

Weird melee of players at the Stars bench results in the play being blown dead, in some sort of “don’t make me call too many men” move. Past the halfway point and no penalty calls.

McElhinney apparently admitted there might be some rust tonight, since this is his first game back from injury. There have been two shots on goal from Dallas and I’m starting to worry a little.

Immediately after I typed that Benn stole the puck from Marner, rushed up the ice and McElhinney made a pretty glove save on a hot shot. Message received Curtis, I’ll shut up.

Tyler Bozak and JVR get what looks like a half-dozen chances in close but can’t quite close the deal. Roussel then ends up with the puck on his stick and basically the entire Leafs zone to play with. McElhinney gets in his way.

Benn and Kadri have a bit of a stare-off. Don’t try it Naz, Benn will feed you your glove.

The Seguin line is finally getting some chances in the zone and Segs demonstrates why a girl (or anyone really, but (spoilers) we’re talking about me) might have a crush on him, hockey-wise, with a lethal looking shot.

I’m less impressed with the Leafs right now. Possibly the Stars are just figuring them out, but the number of shots for Dallas is going up quickly in a short amount of time.

Kadri scores! Lovely pass from Marner to Kadri on the goal mouth and in it goes. Jake Gardiner gets a lot of praise from Ray Ferraro for his work on the play, and Marleau got it all started. 1-0 Leafs

Goodness the Seguin line knows how to hockey. No scoring yet but they keep making me excessively tense. This time it was Benn, John Klingberg and Radulov.

Roman Polak used an interesting defensive play to stop Devin Shore from getting back into the play — he basically sat on his head.

16.7 seconds left in the period and the Leafs get called for too many dicks on the dancefloor. William Nylander sits, and the Leafs will start the second on the kill.

Second Period

Because what you need when you start the period down a player already is a “discussion” behind the net. It’s broken off without any calls.

Zach Hyman gets a shorthanded opportunity with... Polak? Bishop turns it aside and then Polak and Hyman basically collide. A few chances for Dallas, including one for Jason Spezza that had the crowd excited, but nothing doing.

2-0 Hyman from Nylander and I’m actually shocked Dallas didn’t challenge for interference because Hyman takes the net right off and this week who knows what the decision would have been.

Leafs get a power play and Bozak and JVR combine almost immediately for a chance. Bozak gets the next one too, he’s jumping. Great power play, they spend most of it in the correct zone, bunch of shots and the Stars can’t really do anything to stop it.

Okay so I wanted Martin against Roussel, but Connor Carrick has stepped up to defend the honour of James Reimer (shut up, let me pretend). Coincidental minors. You go, Connor.

Stars might be skating quickly but they’re having some trouble connecting with each other.

McElhinney stops Benn dead after a bit of a defensive failure.

Marner goes NHL18 again but can’t shake the Stars who have converged upon him so without much in the way of passing options tries a shot through traffic. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t get all the way to Bishop.

Remi Elie trips up Gardiner and the Leafs are back on the power play.

Marner sends a pass back but misses Gardiner and they have to re-set.

A goal! Kadri again. Sort of. He puts a shot off of Mattias Janmark that redirects very fortuitously indeed. 3-0 Leafs. Short power play. It’s 9:29 into the second period. Leafs just gotta keep their foot on the gas.

Klingberg and Janmark force McElhinney to make an impressive stretch save and the net comes off as Polak slides in.

Bit of a push from the Stars but the Leafs ward it off... until they get called for delay of game when a puck flies over the glass. Andreas Borgman is sent off.

The kill looks a bit like pinball but Komarov eventually gets the puck out. Kasperi Kapanen and Connor Brown head out of the zone with a bouncing puck. Bishop stops them but it kills time which is the important point. Starting to wonder if the Stars have filled their goal quota for the week.

Beyond the scoring, Leafs definitely look like the better team this period.

Ack! Jamie Benn gets hit with friendly fire as a shot gets deflected up and catches him in the helmet. Benn doesn’t wear a visor. Benn should wear a visor. However, it looked worse than it was and Benn was back on his feet quickly.

Whenever Tyler Seguin goes down on one knee it’s bad news for the other team and this time is no different. Radulov wins a puck away from Gardiner behind the net and passes out front to Seguin who snaps it up and in past a somewhat confused McElhinney. 3-1

Dammit. JVR and Brown get a two on one and Brown slings the rebound into the net but the play was blown dead for reasons beyond understanding. Bishop never had control of the puck.

In case anyone is wondering “who is Remi Elie” apparently he’s a former junior teammate of both Brown and Marner.

Ooooh last-second dead-on shot by Nylander but Bishop stops it.

I expect the third to be exciting but I have no idea if I mean that in a good way or not.

Third period

Hyman says something to Radulov while waiting for the inital puck drop. Radulov must be an interesting guy to chirp.

Carrick with another shot from up high. Once Katya pointed it out I find it hard not to notice that’s basically his only move.

Players are flying and yet the whistles are going too. It doesn’t look quite like a track meet, there’s too much hockey going on.

Ow, I hurt my throat yelling about this goal from Matthews. 3 on 1 with Nylander carrying it in. Nylander passes and Matthews doesn’t miss. 4-1 Leafs.

Dermott misses a puck and Dallas gets a 3 on 1... stopped by McElhinney. He’s having a bit of a night.

Okay that was a nifty sequence - Marleau tucked a backhand between his own legs to Kadri, who took a shot.

Feel like I’m seeing a lot of the Kadri line at the moment. It’s getting late in the third, maybe an attempt to get him a third? (I’m sure there’s a deeper strategic region but I’m not the member of the masthead you should be looking to for that sort of thing.)

Delayed Leafs penalty and Stars are hanging onto the puck forever. Eventually Polak touches it and Hyman is going to the box for interference.

Decent kill from the Leafs. Dallas keeps up a lot of pressure - a lot of shots from Seguin in particular - but they break things up about halfway through, giving McElhinney a bit of a breather before the Stars get control again.

McElhinney makes an actual miraculous save and goes swimming to keep a puck out.

Bishop’s habit of going for a walk nearly comes back to bite him as he gets trapped behind the net.

He’s there when he needs to be to deny Matthews about a minute later.

Final minute of the third period and here’s the Seguin line back on but even they aren’t making much work tonight and what they are gets stopped by McElhinney.

Leafs win, Kadri gets a multi-goal game, Gardiner continues his streak and I even got to see a Seguin goal. All in all, a good night.