Things were not pretty, but the Toronto Maple Leafs came out on top against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night by a score of 5-4.
Prior to the game the Athletic put out a story that showed that nearly 60% of the Toronto Maple Leafs goals this season have come from the "Core Four" which is more than any other team's top four scorers.
That number will go up as 100% of the five goals the Maple Leafs needed for victory were scored by the teams big guns.
The Maple Leafs took advantage of each of their three powerplays as they potted goals every time they had the man advantage.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Stars Lift Them to Victory
William Nylander got the scoring going early in the first period on a one-time slap shot that was set up by Morgan Rielly, however, the team would go into the dressing room trailing by a goal after giving up a pair late in the period. On each of the Stars goals veteran Mark Giordano was on the ice helping pull the puck from the back of the net, a theme that would continue throughout the game.
In the second period, the Maple Leafs would receive two more powerplays and they would capitalize on both. The suddenly hot John Tavares put in a one time snap shot from the slot that was set up by Nylander to tie the game and the goal was Tavares' 15th of the season ;and he has now recorded goals in three consecutive games while notching six points in that time frame.
Auston Matthews would score his league leading 41st goal of the season nine minutes later when an attempted cross crease pass to Nylander was deflected off the leg of a sprawling Esa Lindell into the back of the net. The league's top scorer now has 27 goals in 27 games, cue Edmonton Oilers fan whining that it isn't really 27 goals in 27 games.
With under nine minutes reaminging in the third period, the aforementioned Giordano let Stars forward Evgeni Dadonov get behind him and was forced to cause an infraction that led to a penalty shot which the Dadonov buried to tie the game.
Core Four to the Rescue
The Core Four came to the rescue as Mitch Marner displayed some nifty puck handling skills to regain the lead 22 seconds later. It only took another 20 seconds for Nylander to pot his second of the game and 25th of the season to give the Maple Leafs their first two goal lead of the game, which was set up nicely by Tavares for his third point of the game.
With the goalie pulled, Dallas would make things close when Wyatt Johnson scored to bring them within a goal and yet again, Giordano was back on the ice.
The Leafs would come out on top 5-4 for their fourth win in five games and despite several gaps in their game have gone 5-2-0 after a four game losing streak in mid-January. The Core Four contributed with all five goals and combined for nine points, while the rest of the line-up recorded three assists (which includes a Rielly assist).
The Leafs are now off until Saturday night when they head east to take on the Ottawa Senators.