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Stars-Maple Leafs Preview

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Toronto Maple Leafs at Dallas Stars
Tuesday, January 31
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (20-20-10) entered the All-Star break with a 4-3 win over Buffalo. Patrick Sharp scored two goals, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 of 22 shots in relief, including all 16 shots he faced in the third period as the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

"It's a lot better leaving the rink with a couple of days off after a win then it would have been going the other way," Sharp said. "I think the last week, or so we have played really good hockey and probably haven't gotten the full results we have been looking for, but if we play that way good things are going to happen."

The Stars come out of the break three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 32 games remaining.

Stars center Radek Faksa, who missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, practiced Monday and could be ready to play Tuesday.

"He's a good possibility," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He skated over the weekend and felt good. I thought he looked good out there today. As long as he continues to feel well, he's a good possibility to play."

Tuesday's game is the fourth of a six-game homestand for the Stars, who are 1-0-2 in the first three games.

Injuries: C Radek Faksa (lower body) is questionable. D Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), C/LW Mattias Janmark (knee) and RW Ales Hemsky (hip) are on injured reserve.

About the Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs (23-15-9) lost their final game before All-Star break, falling 2-1 at Philadelphia. Flyers forward Roman Lyubimov scored to snap a 1-1 tie with 2:37 remaining in the third period to hand the Maple Leafs, who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, just their third regulation loss in the past 16 games (11-3-2).

"In the end, it's disappointing because you're two minutes away from getting a point," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "But in saying that, the better team, I think, when the game was on the line, won. We have to find a way on back-to-back nights. We didn't have enough guys good enough, long enough."

The Maple Leafs are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, but only one point out of third in the Atlantic Division with five games in hand on Boston and one point behind of the second wild-card spot with three games in hand on the Flyers.

Defenseman Morgan Rielly, who has missed the past five games with a knee injury, practiced Monday. He'll be a game-day decision Tuesday.

"I don't have to decide until tomorrow," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock told Toronto media Monday. "But if (Morgan) is back, it's a real boost."

Tuesday's game is the third of six straight on the road for Toronto.

Injuries: D Morgan Rielly (knee) is questionable. F Ben Smith (hand) is on injured reserve.

Season Series

*This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Maple Leafs this season.

*The Stars were 0-2-0 vs. Toronto last season.

*The Stars have lost four straight games to the Maple Leafs.

Statistical Tidbits

*The Stars are 13-7-6 at home.

*The Maple Leafs are 11-7-6 on the road.

*The Stars are 4-8-4 vs. the Eastern Conference including 2-3-1 against the Atlantic Division.

*The Maple Leafs are 7-6-5 vs. the Western Conference including 2-3-2 against the Central Division.

*The Stars allow 2.05 goals per 60 minutes five-on-five, ranking eighth in the league.

*The Maple Leafs score 2.70 goals per 60 minutes five-on-five, ranking sixth in the league.

*The Stars have scored on the power play in five of their past seven games.

*The Maple Leafs are 23-24 on the penalty kill in their past eight games.

*Toronto ranks third in the league on the power play at 23.3 percent.

*The Stars rank 30th on the penalty kill at 74.0 percent and have allowed 17 power-play goals in the past 13 games.

*Patrick Eaves and Tyler Seguin co-lead the Stars with 18 goals. Seguin is tops on Dallas with 47 points.

*Auston Matthews leads the Maple Leafs with 23 goals. Matthews, James van Riemsdyk, and Mitch Marner are tied for the team lead with 39 points.

This story was not subject to 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.

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