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game recap

Curtis McElhinney makes 39 saves in Maple Leafs win

Auston Matthews' 25th goal game-winner against Stars

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 39 saves for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

McElhinney is 2-2-0 since being claimed on waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"It was great, especially in front of our net we did a much better job tonight," McElhinney said. "Most of those shots were generated from the outside and I thought the guys battled real hard inside. I just wanted to be big in there. Pucks were hitting me and the rebounds were there too, but the guys were doing a good job of clearing it out. I felt pretty comfortable the whole game."

Toronto (25-17-10) was playing its first home game since a 4-0 win against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 23. The Maple Leafs were 2-3-1 in six road games and allowed 22 goals in the last four, including a 6-3 loss to Dallas on Jan. 31.

 

WATCH: All Stars vs. Maple Leafs highlights

 

"I thought we were playing a little loose on the road trip," Toronto forward Tyler Bozak said. "Obviously it's a little bit tougher on the road to defend, and teams have a little advantage at home. But tonight McElhinney made some huge saves for us. And a team like Dallas, they're high-scoring, they have a lot of power up front, so it's nice to keep the scoring down tonight and get the win."

After Bozak won an offensive-zone faceoff, Mitchell Marner passed to defenseman Jake Gardiner, whose slap shot from the blue line went past goalie Antti Niemi's glove to put Toronto up 1-0 at 9:09 of the first period.

Video: DAL@TOR: Matthews redirects puck past Niemi and in

Auston Matthews won an offensive-zone faceoff directly back to Gardiner at the blue line. His wrist shot was deflected by Matthews in the slot to put Toronto up 2-0 at 17:32 of the second period. Matthews leads NHL rookies with 25 goals.

Tyler Seguin pulled the Stars within 2-1 with a power-play goal at 4:00 of the third period. It was his 20th goal of the season.

Dallas (21-23-10) took three minor penalties in a span of 2:04 after Seguin scored.

"We've had that a few times this year," Seguin said. "Last year we were a lot better with (avoiding) that. This year, it's been hurting us. It's just the timing penalties, my penalty, too, tonight, the timing ones really change the momentum in a game and it changed it tonight for them."

On a 5-on-3 power play, Nikita Zaitsev scored his second goal of the season at 7:26 of the third period to put the Maple Leafs up 3-1.

Video: DAL@TOR: Gardiner nets one-time blast to open scoring

 

Goal of the game

Zaitsev took a pass from Nazem Kadri at the blue line and moved into the high slot before taking a wrist shot past Niemi with Leo Komarov providing a screen.

Video: DAL@TOR: Zaistev scores PPG through screen in front

 

Save of the game

After the Maple Leafs turned over the puck in the neutral zone on a power play, McElhinney stopped Stars forward Jamie Benn, who took a hard wrist shot from the slot at 5:47 of the third period, to keep Toronto ahead 2-1.

Stars forward Adam Cracknell was assessed a goaltender inference penalty as he went after the rebound, setting up the 5-on-3 that led to Zaitsev's goal.

"It was just one of those pucks he's shooting for a rebound," McElhinney said. "They had a guy driving hard to the net. Cracknell's a guy I played with before, so I know I'll give him some [heck] about that, but he's just trying to do his job and bang in a rebound there."

Video: DAL@TOR: McElhinney kicks out pad to stone Benn

 

Highlight of the game

Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis shot off the end boards at 17:31 of the first period. The rebound came back in front, resulting in a scramble in the goal crease, but McElhinney was able to find the loose puck to preserve Toronto's 1-0 lead.

 

Unsung performance of the game

Leading 1-0, the Maple Leafs killed a four-minute power play after Kadri was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking and hooking on the same sequence at 18:02 of the first period.

 

They said it

"It's a priority for us. If you're going to win games down the stretch when you have a one-goal lead, you can't lose every faceoff. Lots of times when that's been a problem for us, it's because we never have the puck." -- Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock

 

"I think we're all sick of talking about it. You look yourself in the mirror, dig deeper. Even our record going into the third (period) when we're not leading (0-18-2), we all have to be professional in here and hold ourselves accountable." -- Stars forward Tyler Seguin

Video: DAL@TOR: Seguin buries quick PPG off the faceoff

 

What's next

Stars: At the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)

Maple Leafs: Host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SNO, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Gardiner, McElhinney lead Leafs past Stars, 3-1

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