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Lupul, Reimer help Maple Leafs end Stars' win streak

by Mike Brophy /

TORONTO -- Joffrey Lupul scored two goals and James Reimer made 43 saves in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

The victory was the Maple Leafs' (2-7-2) first at home this season and put an end to the Stars' (9-3-0) three-game winning streak.

Lupul, who had 10 goals and 21 points in 55 games last season for the Maple Leafs, has five goals in 11 games.

"Our penalty kill was good, our power play got two goals and [Reimer] made big saves, so everything was in order tonight," Lupul said. "That's how you have to win in this league; you have to win the special teams battle, and that's what we did tonight."

Lupul was pleased about scoring twice, but appeared to be more excited about his line's performance against the Stars' top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp. Lupul plays right wing on a line with center Nick Spaling and left wing Daniel Winnik.

"I am being asked to do different things and I am enjoying the role," Lupul said. "We played the whole night against their top line and I think that is the best line in the NHL right now. You have to play a little differently than if you were matched up against another line. You can't give them more opportunities than they are going to create on their own. It wasn't easy playing against them."

Toronto coach Mike Babcock liked Lupul's effort Monday.

"[Lupul] has been the best, I don't know why, when he plays with those guys," Babcock said. "He seems to score better when he is playing with a cycle group as opposed to a rush group. That's good for us."

The Maple Leafs grabbed an early lead when Brad Boyes scored his first goal of the season at 8:24. Boyes, who was scratched the previous two games, took two stabs at a loose puck in front of the net and got the second attempt past Stars goaltender Antti Niemi. Toronto center Byron Froese got his first NHL point with an assist.

Dallas tied it 58 seconds later when Jamie Benn added to his NHL-leading point total (18) with his 10th goal of the season, which also leads the League. Benn drove hard to the net, used Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly as a screen and beat Reimer with a low shot.

Toronto appeared to regain the lead at 15:48 when Boyes struck again. But Dallas' Lindy Ruff used his coach's challenge and it was determined Froese was offside.

The Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead 21 seconds into the second period when Lupul scored his fourth goal of the season. Rielly let go a shot from the right point that hit Niemi in the chest, but Lupul was on the doorstep for the rebound.

The Stars had a chance to even the score when Radek Faksa broke in alone while playing shorthanded, but hit the crossbar.

Thirty seconds later, Lupul took a pass in front of the Stars net from Nazem Kadri and scored his second of the game.

The Stars had another opportunity to pull within a goal at 6:07 of the third period when Valeri Nichushkin was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind while on a breakaway by Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner. Nichushkin attempted to beat Reimer with a backhand deke, but shot wide.

Rielly scored a power-play goal on a 3-on-1 with 12.6 seconds remaining.

"It's a little bit of everything tonight," Jamie Benn said. "We've got to give their goalie credit, he played pretty good. We gave them too many easy goals, and that's the game."

Babcock has already decided to reward Reimer with a second straight start on Wednesday when the Maple Leafs host the Winnipeg Jets.

"Our goaltending was good to night and gave us the opportunity to have success," Babcock said. "To me, if you play good you get to start the next game and if you play good again you get to start the game after that."

Reimer felt like the breaks finally went his way.

"I feel like I've been playing well this season, not getting a couple bounces and tonight I got a couple bounces, a couple posts and a couple that managed to hit me when I was sprawling," Reimer said. "It was one of those nights where you worked hard and you got rewarded."

Ruff agreed Reimer played a huge role, but felt the Stars weren't at their best.

"I don't know if we deserved to win," Ruff said. "We had a couple of missed assignments right in front of our own net and that can change the game. At the same time, I thought Reimer was real good. He made some real key saves. We had some opportunities to turn the momentum, but I still think when you hand a team two goals on missed assignments, I don't think at the end of the night you deserve to win."

Toronto was 2-for-5 on the power play; Dallas was 0-for-2.

Niemi made 22 saves.

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