Take down Stars at the ACC
McElhinney fills in admirably for Andersen between the pipes.
Auston Matthews and the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs picked up a much-needed victory, edging out the Dallas Stars, 3-1, in National Hockey League action at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.
Matthews scored his team-leading 25th goal of the year and Curtis McElhinney made 39 saves as the Leafs won for only the second time in the past six games (2-3-1). Toronto held the Stars to only a single goal after yielding 22 over the previous four outings.
Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev also scored for the Leafs (25-17-10), who sit third in the Atlantic Division with 60 points.
Antti Niemi made 31 saves and Tyler Seguin tallied Dallas’s (21-23-10) lone goal in defeat.
Both teams entered the night in midst of wobbly spells. The Leafs had dropped four of their previous five games, including a 6-5 overtime defeat to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Monday night. The Stars, meanwhile, had fallen in five of the previous seven with one victory coming against Toronto one week earlier in Dallas.
It was the home side that got the early jump off an offensive zone faceoff nine minutes in. After Tyler Bozak beat Adam Cracknell on the draw, Mitch Marner scooped up the puck and fed Gardiner at the point. The 26-year-old wired the one-time shot under the glove of Niemi, who’s struggled all year-long for Dallas.
A Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, Niemi ranks near the bottom of the league in save percentage this season.
Gardiner, who had two points on the night, is up to seven goals on the year, equalling the mark he posted in 79 games last season. Marner added an assist on the play, his 32nd of the year and 46th point, both marks leading the Leafs.
The 19-year-old is riding a five-game point streak, during which he’s racked up three goals and four assists.
Marner is among the NHL’s leading scorers since Jan. 1 with 20 points in 17 games.
In first-period action against the Dallas Stars in Toronto on Tuesday night, Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner, right, celebrates his goal, assisted by rookie Mitchell Marner (16), who gives him a hug. The leafs won the contest, 3-1.