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At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Toronto Maple Leafs head into American Airlines Center on Tuesday to play the Dallas Stars on a three-game losing streak, but coach Randy Carlyle isn't calling his team desperate in its final game before the Christmas break.

"Desperation can take people out of their confidence, take confidence away," Carlyle said. "We don't want to go into the break with four losses. Who does? Who does in pro sports? We don't want to lose any games, simple as that."

Toronto lost 4-0 at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and Dallas overcame a three-goal deficit in the second period before winning 6-5 at the Edmonton Oilers to cap a perfect road trip through Western Canada at 3-0-0. Even though the Stars have won four straight, coach Lindy Ruff is always alert for signs of a letdown, especially against the struggling Maple Leafs, who remain a potent offensive team.

"Well, we just played three teams that were on losing streaks, so we should be used to that," Ruff said. "I always feel it's a dangerous game. Again tonight, [Toronto is] a team that's desperate to win and has had maybe a little bit of a tough time. We got to be ready to play."

Carlyle changed his lines in morning skate, going with a top line of left wing Joffrey Lupul, center Tyler Bozak and right wing Phil Kessel. The second line was left wing James van Riemsdyk, center Nazem Kadri and right wing Mike Santorelli, with a third line of left wing Daniel Winnik, center Peter Holland and right wing David Clarkson.

The fourth line of left wing David Booth, center Trevor Smith and right wing Richard Panik remains intact.

Caryle is making one change to his defensive pairs. Stephane Robidas, who played 700 games over nearly 11 seasons in Dallas and will be honored with a video tribute during the first stoppage in play Tuesday, will be paired with Morgan Rielly. Robidas is looking forward to his first regular-season game in Dallas since being traded to the Anaheim Ducks last March.

Robidas signed with Toronto on July 1.

"I spent most of my career here. My life was here," Robidas said. "I even left on really good terms. They were honest and fair with me the whole way and I got nothing but good things to say about the city of Dallas and the organization."

Goalie Jonathan Bernier will start for the Maple Leafs.

Ruff is keeping his forward lines intact from the end of the Edmonton game along with the same defensive pairs.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start a seventh straight game for Dallas. Lehtonen was pulled midway through the second period Sunday after allowing four goals on 19 shots.

Here are the projected lineups:


Joffrey LupulTyler BozakPhil Kessel

James van RiemsdykNazem KadriMike Santorelli

Daniel WinnikPeter HollandDavid Clarkson

David BoothTrevor SmithRichard Panik

Dion PhaneufCody Franson

Jake GardinerRoman Polak

Morgan RiellyStephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Leo Komarov (concussion)


Jamie BennTyler SeguinAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselJason SpezzaErik Cole

Cody EakinTravis MorinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

John Klingberg - Alex Goligoski

Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley

Jordie BennJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak

Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), Patrik Nemeth (arm), Valeri Nichushkin

Status report: Holzer will be scratched with Robidas returning to the lineup. … Moen and Oleksiak will likely be scratched for a second straight game.

Who's hot: Kadri (goal, two assists) and Santorelli each had three points in a 3-2 overtime victory against Dallas on Dec. 2 at Air Canada Centre. … Seguin leads the NHL with seven multi-goal games this season.

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