Stars-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Dallas Stars (18-7-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (15-11-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Having failed in his last three starts to move into second place on the all-time wins list, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour may have some added inspiration when he tries again to reach the milestone.
Belfour will likely be in net when the Maple Leafs face his former team, the Dallas Stars, at the Air Canada Centre.
With one-goal losses in his last three outings, Belfour remains stuck on 447 wins, tied with Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk.
The 40-year-old Belfour spent his first nine seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks before signing with Dallas in 1997. He played the next five seasons with the Stars, going 160-95-44 with a 2.17 goals-against average and 27 shutouts.
He led Dallas to its only Stanley Cup in 1999, going 16-7 with a 1.67 GAA and three shutouts during that postseason as the Stars defeated the Buffalo Sabres to capture the championship.
After recording just 21 wins and a 2.65 GAA in 2001-02, Dallas traded Belfour to Nashville for a draft pick. Days later, the Leafs signed him.
In his latest try for the milestone win, Belfour finished with 21 saves, but rookie Dustin Brown scored twice Tuesday as the Stars lost 2-1 to Los Angeles.
"I'm really honored to have the career I've had," Belfour said. "I'm fortunate to have played on some really good teams and with really good teammates. I'm happy I'm still playing and hopefully I can play for a few more years. I'm proud that I had a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I would love to win another in Toronto. That would be the ultimate."
In Belfour's only appearance against the Stars since leaving Dallas, he turned aside 15 shots in a 3-1 win on Oct. 22, 2003.
Dallas is looking for its season-high fifth win in a row and ninth in 10 games. Jere Lehtinen's second goal of the game on the power play with 15.8 seconds left lifted the Stars to 4-3 win over Florida on Wednesday night.
"I can't say enough about him," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "You're looking down the bench for someone to take control of the game and he doesn't tell you, he just does it and that's what makes him such a great player. He was in a class by himself tonight."
Lehtinen, who has already surpassed his goal total from the 2003-04 season, has three goals and 11 assists in 19 games against the Leafs.
Dallas will be trying Saturday to set a franchise record for consecutive games with a power-play goal. The Minnesota North Stars scored on the power play in 16 straight games from Oct. 11-Nov. 18, 1986.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 9): Stars - 37 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Maple Leafs - 33 points, 4th place, 10 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Lehtinen, 14 goals; Jason Arnott and Mike Modano, 16 assists; Arnott, 26 points; Steve Ott, 66 PIM. Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 13 goals; Bryan McCabe, 26 assists, 36 points and 42 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 9): Stars - Power play: 17.7 percent (31 for 175), 16th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (140 for 170), 15th (tied). Maple Leafs - Power play: 22.2 percent (42 for 189), 3rd. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (148 for 180), 17th (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Stars - Marty Turco (15-6-1, 1 SO, 2.62 GAA); Johan Hedberg (3-1-0, 3.86). Maple Leafs - Belfour (12-9-2, 3.21); Mikael Tellqvist (3-2-1, 1, 2.41).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 15, 2003; Maple Leafs, 3-1. At Dallas, former Star Joe Nieuwendyk scored the tiebreaking goal on a power play with less than seven minutes remaining to lift Toronto.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 8-2-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 9-6-1 at home.