The Dallas Stars had a big advantage in shots on goal Monday night in Toronto, but it didn’t add up to two points. Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer stopped 43 shots, and his teammates made the most of their opportunities in topping the Stars, 4-1, at Air Canada Centre.
“I don’t know if we deserved to win. We had a couple of missed assignments in front of our own net,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought Reimer was really good. He made some real key saves. We missed some opportunities that could have changed the momentum. But I think when you hand a team a couple of goals on missed assignments, I don’t think you deserve to win.”
The Stars outshot the Maple Leafs 44-26 and had a 76-54 advantage in attempted shots, but they solved Reimer only once in the game.
“We had our chances, we gave them a few,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin. “Myself included, we didn’t bear down when we had opportunities to score. … We were sticking with it; we were trying to win our battles. We had 40-plus shots. But at the end of the day, we gave them a couple goals, and that is the end of the story.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars (9-3-0) and ended their road winning streak at four games. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal for the Stars. Antti Niemi got the start in goal and stopped 22 of 26 shots.
The Maple Leafs, who got a pair of goals from Joffrey Lupul and one goal and two assists from Morgan Rielly, snapped a six-game winless streak and won for just the second time this season, improving to 2-7-2.
“Reimer made all the saves,” Lupul said. “They were taking a lot of shots from the point; he was fighting through traffic and making the saves. Our defensemen were doing a good job of limiting the second chances.”
Toronto took a 1-0 lead at 8:24 of the first period when Brad Boyes scored off a backhand shot from close range. But less than one minute later, Jamie Benn beat Reimer from the left circle, and it was a 1-1 game at 10:38 of the first.
The Leafs thought they had taken a 2-1 lead with 4:12 left in the first when Boyes scored off a rebound, but the Stars challenged the goal, saying the Maple Leafs came into the offensive zone offside. Replays indicated they did, officials agreed, and the goal was waved off. It was the first coach’s challenge for Ruff.
“Knew right away,” said Ruff. “Our guys on the bench said right away they thought it was offside. That was one we didn’t even have to review it.”
The Stars outshot the Maple Leafs 19-9 in the second period, but Toronto scored twice to take a 3-1 lead. Lupul scored off the rebound of a Rielly shot 21 seconds into the period to make it a 2-1 game.
Just 18 seconds after Stars forward Radek Faksa hit the crossbar on a shorthanded breakaway, Lupul scored on the power play, getting a wide-open look off the rush to put Toronto up 3-1 at 12:45 of the second.
The Stars had a 13-6 shots advantage in the third and some quality chances to cut into Toronto’s lead. Reimer made a big stop on a point-blank bid by Patrick Sharp early in the period. Valeri Nichushkin had a penalty shot at the 6:07 mark, but shot wide. Reimer had another huge save on a Cody Eakin shorthanded bid midway through the period.
“We just couldn’t get the job done,” Ruff said.
Rielly scored on the power play with 13 seconds left to round out the scoring in the game.
The Stars now head to Boston where they play Tuesday and will try to get back on track.
“Another road game tomorrow night. We’ve got to be ready to bounce back,” Seguin said. “Boston has been playing some good hockey, and we have to respond after tonight’s loss.”
*The 44 shots on goal was the second highest for the Stars this season. They had 52 in the 4-2 win over Edmonton on Oct. 13.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with eight shots on goal. Jamie Benn had six.
*Jamie Benn’s goal was his league-leading tenth of the season.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 3-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars have allowed six power-play goals over the past four games and are 9-15 (60.0 percent) on the penalty kill during that stretch.
*The Stars won 39 of 82 faceoffs (48 percent). Jamie Benn won 9 of 14 (64 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 12 (58 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 17 (53 percent). Tyler Seguin won 8 of 19 (42 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 18 (33 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 22:14 of ice time.
*The Stars continue their road trip with a game at Boston on Tuesday. It will be the second game of a back-to-back, the first of 12 for the Stars this season.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Radek Faksa – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Mattias Janmark – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak, Devin Shore
Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Curtis McKenzie (hip)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.