Maple Leafs-Stars Preview
The Dallas Stars have lost three times in their first 15 games, but the most recent setback came against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.
Back on track since that defeat, the Stars can set a record for the best 16-game start in club history with a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday night against the visiting Maple Leafs.
Dallas (12-3-0) continues to remain humble while sitting atop the Western Conference with the franchise's best start through 15 games.
"It's important, but we're only a couple of wins out of sixth, seventh place,'' said forward Tyler Seguin, who is tied for the NHL lead with 23 points. ''It's a long journey ahead.''
Though the Stars now have a chance to break the team-record 12-4-0 start from 2006-07, they have no reason to take Toronto (2-8-4) for granted. The Maple Leafs are mired in a 1-6-3 stretch but that victory came 4-1 over Dallas on Nov. 2.
''I don't know if we deserved to win,'' said coach Lindy Ruff after the Stars failed to generate much offense while owning a 44-26 shot advantage in their only loss through the last seven games.
Since then, the Stars concluded a four-game trip by outscoring their three opponents 13-5 and going 4 for 8 on the power play. Dallas' 54 goals are second in the NHL, and the Stars have yielded one in each of the last two.
''We've got guys who can score, but the big key is we're buying into playing well at both ends of the ice,'' general manager Jim Nill said.
Seguin has five goals and eight assists on an eight-game point streak. Patrick Sharp has totaled all but three of his 12 points while recording six goals and three assists in the last seven. Seguin and Sharp each had a goal with an assist in Sunday's 4-1 victory at Detroit, and both recorded an assist at Toronto last week.
Dallas' Antti Niemi has a 3.43 goals-against average in his last five games and hasn't started since facing Toronto. Kari Lehtonen has a 1.67 GAA in the last three games but yielded eight goals while losing both starts against the Maple Leafs last season.
One night after falling 2-1 in overtime to Detroit, Toronto lost 3-2 in a shootout at Washington on Saturday. A regulation defeat Tuesday would leave the Maple Leafs with the third-fewest points through the first 15 games in club history.
"It's disappointing not getting an extra point," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. " But I thought it was a really good effort by our team in both games this weekend.
"We have to keep pushing forward, and pushing each other. ... If we play the way we've been playing we're going to get results."
Beginning with that 43-save performance against the Stars, James Reimer has a 1.96 GAA while making four straight starts in place of the injured Jonathan Bernier (lower body).
Joffrey Lupul had two goals with an assist against Dallas but has one assist in three games since. He has four goals and that one assist in the last two at home against the Stars but no points in his last two at Dallas.