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Stars set for rare visit to Toronto

by Brian Compton
STARS (10-7-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (7-9-3)

TV: Fox Sports-Southwest, SNET-O.

Last 10: Dallas 5-4-1; Toronto 2-6-2.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Oct. 28, 2009, when James Neal's overtime goal lifted the Stars to a 4-3 victory at the American Airlines Center.

Big Story: Dallas may find itself at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings, but the Stars certainly aren't playing like a last-place team. Marc Crawford's squad enters Monday's action three games above the .500 mark as first and last place in the Pacific are separated by only five points. Dallas is 2-0-1 in its last three games.

"I truly believe this is the hardest-working team I've ever played on, in eight years as a Dallas Star," veteran forward Steve Ott said. "When you have a team that doesn't quit, you're always going to be in games at the end of it.  We find a way to scratch and claw and rip some skin apart."

Team Scope:

Stars: Despite trailing 3-0 in the second period, Dallas managed to earn a point in the standings Saturday night in a 4-3 shootout loss against the Colorado Avalanche at the American Airlines Center. Adam Burish and Brenden Morrow scored just 23 seconds apart in the second and Neal scored via the power play midway through the third to force overtime.

"It was a gritty effort for our group," Crawford said.  "They went ahead there, and a lot of times, you'd be extremely worried, but almost like we did the game before, it was almost a carbon copy of the third-period comeback.  In the second, getting ourselves back to within a goal, and then I thought we pressed real hard in the third period, had a number of chances.  I thought we had a lot more good chances in the game." 

Maple Leafs: Toronto was unable to extend its winning streak to three games Saturday night, as it suffered a 2-0 loss at Montreal. The Leafs fired 30 shots against Carey Price, but the Habs' goaltender denied them all. Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson was sharp in the loss in a 37-save performance. He stopped all 17 shots he faced in the first period to keep his team in the game.

"He played well, especially in the first period and he gave us a chance to win," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of Gustavsson. "I wouldn't say that they had a very good power play. We got the puck and then gave it right back to them."

Who's Hot: Stars center Brad Richards leads the club with 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists) in 18 games. He also has a plus-10 rating. … Clarke MacArthur tops the Leafs with 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 19 contests.

Injury Report: Dallas is boasting a healthy lineup. … The Leafs will be without Colby Armstrong (broken finger), Dion Phaneuf (leg) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (groin).

Stat Pack: The Stars' top line of Richards, Neal and Loui Eriksson scored 25 of the team's first 53 goals this season. … Saturday's match between Toronto and Montreal was the 771st between the teams.

Puck Drop:  "These are a couple of teams that are struggling, Toronto and Ottawa, I think they've been struggling the last little while. But these aren’t going to be easy -- you're kind of going into a bee's nest and our road performance hasn't been so great lately.  This could be good -- we had a great homestand and if we can take that same kind of presence onto the road, hopefully, we can pull some big points out of there." -- Stars forward Steve Ott 

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