Maple Leafs’ Marner extends point streak to 20 games over Stars

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DALLAS — Magic Mitch Marner turned it up to 20 on Tuesday night.

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The cerebral Maple Leafs winger extended his club record point streak to 20 games, doing his customary part as the Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 4-0 to win for the sixth time in seven games.

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Marner assisted on a goal by captain John Tavares early in the first period.

The game marked the first time in National Hockey League history that two players on a point streak of at least 18 games played in the same match.

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The Stars’ Jason Robertson was unable to stretch his streak beyond 18 games despite registering four shots on goal.

Matt Murray was terrific in the Leafs’ net, making 44 saves to record his first shutout with Toronto and the Leafs’ first shutout of 2022-23.

“It feels great,” Murray said. “Big thanks to the guys in front who did a heck of a job defensively against a really dangerous team that is feeling it. It’s a great team winning on the road.

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It was the 15th shutout of Murray’s NHL career.

“Perfect on the scoresheet, perfect in the game,” said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. “Came up with huge savings in big moments. Number of penalties we took could have been a real problem, but Murry was solid.”

The Leafs, who will head home on Wednesday and meet the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena, have gone 12-1-4 in their past 17 games. Toronto has not lost in regulation since Nov. 11 against Pittsburgh and in its past 12, is 9-0-3.

Any common thread?

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“The resilience of our group and the goaltending,” Keefe said. “The goaltending has been really good. We’ve come up with big goals when we need to.”

The Leafs played much of the evening with five defensemen, including Conor Timmins who was making his Leafs debut, after Victor Mete suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. Mete was crunched along the side boards by Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa and initially went to the bench in pain before departing for the dressing room.

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“He’s going to miss some time,” Keefe said. “We don’t think it’s going to be anything too serious, but I don’t expect him to be available for us the rest of this week.”

The pair of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren especially was great.

At 4:51 of the first, Tavares scored against Stars goalie Jake Oettinger off a Marner rebound.

In recording an assist, Marner became just the fourth active player to record a point streak of at least 20 games, a shot across the bow at those who think too much has been made in the media of Marner’s run. Putting up points in the NHL isn’t done without diligence and effort, and even with those attributes, there is no guarantee the points will come.

The attention and accolades that Marner is getting for the streak is deserved. Among active players, only Patrick Kane, who did so twice, Sidney Crosby and Paul Stastny have had point streaks of at least 20 games.

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“Those are some pretty amazing names,” Marner said. “Like I’ve been saying, it’s not a one-man effort out there. It’s a lot of work from these guys around me, a lot of help. It has been a lot of fun because we have been winning games as well.”

Most crucial in the first period was the play of Murray, who turned aside 15 shots, more than a few coming after some disorganization on the part of his teammates.

The Leafs did get another goal before the first horn sounded.

You know how we always get the cliché from players that they have to take away the time and space from the opponent’s best players unless they want trouble? Well, it turns out that’s true.

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The Stars failed to do so with Auston Matthews, giving the Leafs star plenty of time to skate though some open space before he fired a shot past Oettinger at 17:36.

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The Leafs scored the only goal of the second period when Sandin skated in from the point, collected a loose puck and shot it into an open net. That came at 12:19.

It wasn’t as though the Stars didn’t have their chances. Murray was excellent in the second, turning aside 17 shots.

The Leafs earned every penny on the penalty kill. Marner and William Nylander managed to get scoring chances as Pierre Engvall served a double minor for high-sticking.

And at the end of the period, the valiant penalty killers shone again during a five-on-three as Mark Giordano and Holl watched from the box.

Marner’s stick broke, but he was able to block another shot, and Murray splayed his big frame across the crease to deny the Stars time and time again.

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Alex Kerfoot iced the game with an empty-net goal, his first goal in 22 games.

Overall, the Leafs were seven-for-seven on the penalty kill. It’s the most they’ve been shorthanded in a game this season. And it was just the second time the Leafs allowed more than 40 shots on goal.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, partly because of the time the Leafs spent killing penalties, made little impact in his NHL debut. Der-Arguchintsev, who became the first Leaf to wear No. 85, had sparse minutes on the fourth line.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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