Preview: Stars at Maple Leafs
The Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs each boast 5-2-1 records since returning from the All-Star break, although the latter collected a 5-3 road win over the other on Jan. 29. The Stars will look to avenge that loss on Thursday when they open a three-game trek against the Maple Leafs.
Captain Jamie Benn gained ownership of the team lead in goals (18) after recording his sixth career hat trick in Dallas' 4-1 victory over Carolina on Tuesday. "When he gets going like that, he's a force," Stars interim coach Rick Bowness said of the 30-year-old Benn, who resides one goal shy of 300 for his career. While Benn was held in check in the first encounter with Toronto, Zach Hyman scored in that contest and extended his point total to 14 (six goals, eight assists) in his last dozen games after tallying twice in the Maple Leafs' 3-2 overtime win over Arizona on Tuesday. "He continues to be a force, a driver, he's all around the net. He's also been making plays and playing with lots of confidence with the puck as well," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said of the 27-year-old Hyman.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: FS Southwest, TVAS, Sportsnet Ontario
ABOUT THE STARS (32-19-5): Benn endured a career-worst 15-game goal drought earlier in the season before turning it around, and Bowness believes that Tyler Seguin is on the cusp of ending his 17-game stretch without a tally. "So Jamie gets rewarded (Wednesday) with his goals and Tyler's goals are coming because he's doing a lot to help us win games," Bowness said of the 28-year-old Seguin. Rookie forward Denis Gurianov scored in the first meeting against Toronto and has five goals in his last eight games overall.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (30-19-8): Kasperi Kapanen appears to have found his stride in the new calendar year, highlighting his 11-point run (two goals, nine assists) in that stretch by scoring 3:43 into overtime on Tuesday. Auston Matthews has been consistent all season and even upped the ante in his first six games after the All-Star break with 11 points (six goals, five assists), including a goal and an assist against Dallas. Captain John Tavares was held off the scoresheet in that contest before collecting five goals and three assists during his current five-game point streak.
1. Toronto D Tyson Barrie has recorded 15 of his 32 points against Western Conference opponents, including two (one goal, one assist) in the previous meeting with Dallas.
2. Stars RW Alexander Radulov scored twice versus the Maple Leafs for his lone goals in his last 11 games.
3. Toronto C Pierre Engvall signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract extension on Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Stars 2