Leafs survive late comeback from Stars for second-straight win

Jake Carter
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Dallas, TX – The Leafs continued their hot start to the unofficial second half of the season, surviving a late comeback from the Stars in a 5-3 win on Wednesday night. Toronto set a new team record, recording four or more goals on the road for the eighth straight time.

Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, Tyson Barrie, William Nylander, and Andreas Johnsson all scored for Toronto.

Frederik Andersen made 31 saves in the victory.

Alexander Radulov scored twice, and Denis Gurianov found the back of the net once for Dallas.

Ben Bishop turned aside 29 shots for the Stars.

Leafs forward Jason Spezza, who returned to Dallas after playing five years for the Stars, was placed in the starting lineup for the opening faceoff by head coach Sheldon Keefe.

It was an even start to the opening period, with both teams trading chances. Dallas held Toronto in their own zone and had good offensive pressure within the first five minutes, but the Leafs cleared the puck out. Toronto defenceman Tyson Barrie had a great shot block to keep the puck away from goaltender Frederik Andersen.

In the first TV timeout, the Stars honoured Spezza with a video tribute and a standing ovation for the former Star.

With 7:42 left in the opening period, the Leafs got on the board.

Forward Mitch Marner found Auston Matthews at the side of the net. Matthews made no mistake, lifting the puck over Stars goalie Ben Bishop’s blocker to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.

It didn’t take very long for the Stars to respond.

With 2:40 left, Dallas forward Denis Gurianov took a pass in the neutral zone and showcased his speed, bursting into the Leafs zone and beating Andersen glove side. With his goal, it was 1-1.

The fast-paced first period ended with a 12-10 shot advantage for Toronto.

Just under five minutes into the second period, Toronto added to its lead.

Matthews had a nice backhand-pass in the neutral zone to Marner, who had a backhand-pass of his own to a streaking Zach Hyman. He beat Bishop five-hole to extend the Leafs lead to 2-1.

Shortly after, Dallas went to the powerplay. Cody Ceci got called for roughing after going after a Stars forward for a hit-from-behind on defenceman Rasmus Sandin.

Gurianov had a great chance on Andersen but missed the net as the Leafs killed off the penalty.

With 11:46 left in the middle period, Stars defenceman Miro Heiskanen went off for a holding penalty to put the Leafs on the man advantage.

Midway through the period, the Leafs put another goal on the board. The puck came to Barrie at the point, and he shot it through some traffic in front of the net which beat Bishop. Just like that, it was 3-1 with Barrie’s fifth goal of the season.

But Dallas wasn’t done yet.

With 57.2 seconds left in the period, they found the back of the net. Forward Radek Faksa found Alexander Radulov cross-ice for his 14th goal of the season to make it 3-2.

After 40 minutes, Toronto trailed in shots 25-20.

The Stars came out hot to start the final period trailing by just one goal. But, the Leafs countered with a 2-on-1 from Matthews and Hyman. Unfortunately for Toronto, Matthews’ shot was stopped by Bishop’s stick.

Shortly after, the Leafs had another great chance.

They had a great opportunity on the doorstep in front of Bishop but couldn’t score.

With 16:32 left in the period, William Nylander continued his hot streak. Jake Muzzin shot the puck on net and Nylander collected the rebound, kicked it to his stick from his skate, and put it off the post and in. It was his fifth-straight game with a goal and 24th of the season which made it a 4-2 Toronto lead.

But the Stars didn’t want to go away, as they got it back to a one-goal game with 13:34 left. Heiskanen took a shot from the point that deflected off Radulov and found its way through traffic, beating Andersen to make it a 4-3 game.

Dallas went back on the powerplay with 11:18 left in the frame as Hyman went to the box for tripping.

Just 23 seconds into the man advantage, Faksa took an interference penalty to make it 4-on-4 for 1:37.

Neither team could find the back of the net, and it returned to 5-on-5 after an abbreviated Leafs powerplay.

Toronto went back to the penalty kill after a Spezza hooking call on Radulov.

It was a tight finish, with Dallas pulling Bishop for the extra attacker with just over 1:45 left in the game.

Andersen made two big saves in the final minute of the game before Johnsson potted an empty-net goal to ensure the 5-3 Leafs win.

Next up for Toronto is the battle of Ontario on Saturday night at home against Ottawa.