Leafs shoot down Stars

Dallas Stars center Tomas Vincour (R) tries to control the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman...

Dallas Stars center Tomas Vincour (R) tries to control the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (L) and left wing Jay Rosehill apply pressure in Dallas last night. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Terry Koshan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:06 AM ET

Ahead of his return to Anaheim, Joffrey Lupul left his mark in the Lone Star State.

Lupul scored the only goal in a shootout as the Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 before the first soldout crowd of the season on Friday night at the American Airlines Center.

Lupul beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who went into the game with an NHL-best 13 wins, with a wrist shot.

Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson stopped Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro, but got lucky when Jamie Benn hit the post.

With six regulars — goalie James Reimer, defenceman Mike Komisarek and forwards Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Brown, Matthew Lombardi and Colby Armstrong — out of the lineup with injuries, the Leafs lost a couple of more valuable players in the second period.

David Steckel, whose 59.5% winning rate on faceoffs is among the best in the NHL, and defenceman Carl Gunnarsson both departed after blocking shots. It appeared both were hit in the hand area. John-Michael Liles, on his 31st birthday, moved up to play with captain Dion Phaneuf.

With his parents on the trip, Clarke MacArthur put the Leafs ahead 3-2 at 6:55 of the third period. Nikolai Kulemin won a battle along the boards with Nicklas Grossman and the puck went to Tim Connolly, who spotted MacArthur going to the front of the net.

Connolly’s pass deflected into the net off the left skate of MacArthur, and the goal was allowed to stand after a brief review.

Not long after, Gustavsson made a difficult save on Jamie Benn.

But the lead did not last long. Radek Dvorak, after the Stars kept the Leafs hemmed in their own end for an eternity, used a wrist shot to beat Gustavsson at 12:47 and tie the game 3-3.

Luke Schenn rocked Tomas Vincour with a big check that might draw the attention of NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

Phaneuf had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who finish their four-game trip on Sunday night in Anaheim against the Ducks.

Joey Crabb also scored.

Eric Nystrom, who was acquired by the Stars from the Minnesota Wild in October after no one picked him up on waivers, had two goals for Dallas.

Nystrom tied the game 2-2 at 4:38 of the second period when he snuck behind Cody Franson and re-directed Radek Dvorak’s pass behind Gustavsson.

Toronto knew the Dallas players would be physically tough and that approach for the Stars threw the Leafs off their game a bit. For long stretches, the Leafs were disorganized in the defensive zone and therefore had a hard time moving the puck up the ice.

The Leafs had a 2-1 lead after a fairly solid opening 20 minutes, and swallowed the opening goal by the Stars before they got going.

Phaneuf was a factor on all three goals. Two were for good reasons, one not so much.

The Stars got the first goal of the game at 4:03 after a couple of Leafs miscues. Tyler Bozak was knocked off the puck along the neutral zone boards by Jamie Benn, and when the Stars gained control in the Toronto end, Phaneuf whiffed badly when he tried to hit Michael Ryder. Instead, Ryder made a pass to Nystrom, who stepped around Kessel and beat Gustavsson with a wrist shot.

But the Leafs shrugged that off, and the fact they did not register a shot on their first power play.

Phaneuf made a nice play with his stick at the Stars blue line to keep the puck in the Dallas zone by centimetres and fired a shot at the net. Crabb, his back to Lehtonen, got his stick on the shot for a perfect deflection at 10:55.

Phaneuf gave the visitors a 2-1 advantage at 14:53 with his first goal since Oct. 22, breaking a personal 15-game skid. The Leafs made it six games in a row with at least one power-play goal when Phaneuf hammered a shot from the point behind Lehtonen.


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