The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their southern road trip with a stop in Dallas. Coming in to tonight's game they were 2-1 on this trip with victories over the slumping Washington Capitals and the always challenging Tampa Bay Lightning.
The game begins deep in the Dallas zone, with the Maple Leafs starting five skating around the end, passing like there's no one to stop them, but they can't shoot. The control is there but the finish is not.
It takes three minutes for the first shot to hit the net, and it's the Maple Leafs who get it while they keep Dallas from being a threat offensively. Any entry to Toronto's zone is quickly snuffed out before they can even get a third man in. Mostly.
Five minutes in then Stars give the home fans something to get on their feet about with Tomas Harley getting a get cross ice pass and a wide open net to shoot on but he goes high over the glass and out.
Something I missed early on, but Jake McCabe was hit at the start and now he's left the bench...
Mitch Marner is called for tripping Roope Hintz, and the Stars are given the first powerplay. It's not a strong power play, and it get cuts early when Wyatt Johnston is called for slashing with 20 seconds remaining.
With some four on four time, Morgan Rielly scores the first of the game off a backhand pass from William Nylander.
Scoring four on four means the Leafs still get about 90 seconds of powerplay time, and this goal was the first powerplay goal against Dallas this season.
They don't double up on the power play, but they keep control of the game.
Can Nylander be in a contract year every year?
The Maple Leafs end the first in the lead 1-0, and leading 8-5 in shots.
The second begins with more Dallas oriented offense, which isn't great but the Leafs defense is keeping them at bay. Joseph Woll pulls a Stretch Armstrong to get his pad out and into the post to block Jason Robertson's attempt to tie the game.
The Maple Leafs get a power play chance after Roope Hintz is called for holding, the only way to stop William Nylander. The second period has been more Dallas than Toronto, with the Stars taking the lead in shots and getting multiple shorthanded chances, while the Leafs lag a bit after an explosive first period.
The Leafs are upping their game as the period goes on, matching the Stars offense as much as they can, but Woll and the defenders are forced to step up. John Klingberg plays goalie, blocking a shot in front of the net.
The Dallas Stars finally get what they were looking for when former Maple Leaf Mason Marchment gets a pass in front of the net from Matt Duchene and scores to tie the game at ones at the midway point.
On that play the Leafs were hemmed into their own zone for almost two minutes, and then when they got a chance to change Dallas came right back in, forcing a tired Liljegren and Giordano to try and make the save, but no luck.
While most of the reactions from the crowd were positive for the Stars most of this period, Auston Matthews strips Tyler Seguin of the puck next to the Stars net, he gets the puck to Mitch Marner, and Marner gets the Leafs lead back with just under two minutes to go in the second.
TJ Brodie and Matthew Knies come close to adding one more to end the period, but aren't successful. Second period ends with Toronto leading 2-1, shots are 21-19 for Dallas.
The Stars aren't going down quietly, as they have taken control once again early on in the third period. Knocking off several quick shots, forcing Joseph Woll to jump around and make saves, worrying the defenders, and being a general nuisance.
The Leafs get a stroke of luck when Jani Hakanpää is called for a double minor for high sticking, giving the Maple Leafs a four minute powerplay to try and put this game out of reach for the Stars.
Tyler Bertuzzi gets one, knocking two minutes off the power play, and makes it 3-1.
Matthew Knies dove to the ice to keep the puck in the Stars zone, and his sacrifice paid off.
3-1 Maple Leafs.
The rest of the power play goes well, but no goal, and the Leafs get away from the double minor up by two.
The Stars try to come back after they get another powerplay, this time it's John Klingberg for hooking, but they can't get it done, only get one shot with the extra man, and the Leafs stay up by two.
This is not the Maple Leafs best game, and Woll is doing everything he can to keep them in it.
A little bit of a scare for Ty Dellandrea when he takes a puck to the face with five minutes to go.
The Stars pull the goalie with just over two minutes to go, and the Leafs can't get enough control of the puck to get a decent shot into the net. It's kind of like both teams have given in to the Leafs 3-1 win and don't want to do much to change it.
Icing, icing, icing. The Leafs should open a cupcake shop with all this icing love.
John Tavares finally gets the puck into the empty net to seal the win at 4-1 Toronto.
The Maple Leafs get their sixth straight win in Dallas, move to 3-1 on their road trip with one final stop in Nashville on Saturday night.
It felt like the game was played an our later with the tempo and play lagging at the end. The Leafs got the win but they need to play better to keep them coming.
Joseph Woll continues to not allow goals in the first and third periods, and William Nylander continues his season opening point streak with seven in a row. If he scores next game he'll be the fourth Maple Leaf in history to open the season with an eight game point streak, and after that he'll own the record.
I say he does it.
See you all on Saturday night!