Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Dallas Stars Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 7th 2024

The Dallas Stars will put a four-game winning streak on the line Wednesday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Stars opened a three-game road trip Tuesday night with a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger made a career-high 47 saves and Sam Steel scored what proved to be the winning goal midway through the second period.

Matt Duchene also scored for Dallas, and Joe Pavelski played in his 1,300th NHL game.

The Stars are on a 9-2-1 surge.

The Maple Leafs had a three-game winning streak end Monday night when they lost 3-2 to the visiting New York Islanders in their return from the All-Star break.

The winning goal came from former Maple Leaf Pierre Engvall at 17:58 of the third period, after John Tavares had tied the game for Toronto with a power-play goal three minutes earlier.

“I thought we played well enough to win, but we did just enough to lose,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Second goal, third goal, those are gifts. You can’t give gifts when the goalie’s playing the way he is on the other end.”

The third Islanders goal was the result of weak clearance attempt, and the second goal came from Kyle MacLean on a breakaway after he left the penalty box.

“This is the National Hockey League. That’s peewee stuff,” Keefe said. “You play on the power play in the National Hockey League, they should not get behind you coming out of the penalty box.”

Tavares added, “We’ve got to execute defensively and make sure that game doesn’t get away from us like it did at the end after working hard to tie it up.”

The Maple Leafs likely will seek defensive help as they move forward.

“I’ve talked about it with you guys and with the team, it’s a matter of consistency,” Keefe said after practice on Tuesday. “We have different players going through different things. … Yet, from my perspective, we have a good team, good players.

“We as a staff have to do a better job working with them, helping them recognize their own role in getting the team to play to its potential. We’ve done that about 50 percent of the games, but that’s not enough in the NHL.”

Oettinger is making a quick return visit to Toronto, where he participated in the All-Star Game on the weekend. He said it helped his confidence that he was a key contributor to Team Matthews prevailing in the three-team event.

“I feel like I belonged out there. I didn’t feel like a fish out of water,” Oettinger said of his All-Star experience. “It was just such a fun weekend. But now it’s go time. I need to be better than I had been in the past, and ramp my game up. (The Tuesday game) was a small step in the right direction.”

Stars coach Pete DeBoer said, “I was hoping he’d go to the All-Star Game and recognize that he belonged there and he belonged with that group of players and come back confident and reset for the stretch drive. That’s what we saw here (in Buffalo).”

DeBoer, though, was to see improvement in front of his goalie.

“I don’t even know where to start,” he said. “Let’s just concentrate on how good Jake was and let me worry about that tonight and tomorrow.”

The game on Wednesday will feature the Robertson brothers competing against each other — Toronto’s Nicholas and Dallas’s Jason. Nicholas won all three previous NHL matchups between the two, and he scored twice in a victory on Oct. 20, 2022.

–Field Level Media

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