NHL

Stars, Leafs stumble into Tuesday matchup

TORONTO -- The Dallas Stars and the Toronto Maple Leafs will meet for the second time in a week when they play Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

When they played last Tuesday in Dallas, the Stars scored five first-period goals on their way to a 6-3 victory.

It could be a high-scoring game again the second time around. The Maple Leafs have allowed 22 goals in their past four games after dropping a 6-5 overtime verdict to the New York Islanders on Monday night in Brooklyn.

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The Maple Leafs (24-17-10) were coming off a 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Toronto led 4-2 and 5-4 on Monday as they finished a six-game trip at 2-3-1.

"I think we're disappointed," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "It's always good to get a point on the road. If it was 2-1, I probably wouldn't feel like I do right now when you give up six goals, especially with some of the mistakes we made defensively.

"For me, to give up free ones, just tap-ins by our net, is not good enough. We've got to get that fixed in a hurry. I didn't think we did that well in Boston, but we got away with it and won. In this one here, it's disappointing. We had the game won and we gave it up."

Said Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews, who scored a goal Monday, "We don't want to win games 6-5, 5-4. We know they're going to be tight going into the third period here, but we don't want to be a team with that run-and-gun style that's giving up goals but scoring a lot. We have to be tighter in our own zone."

The Stars are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, a game they led 3-2 during the third period. The Blackhawks capitalized on two Dallas third-period mistakes, leading Stars coach Lindy Ruff to say: "It's a terrible loss. It's not good hockey. It's stupid hockey."

The Stars (21-22-10) finished a six-game homestand at 2-2-2, with one of the wins against the Maple Leafs.

"It's not good enough," Ruff said. "There are no easy games. Again, you could say we let points slip away. Every game we lost points in, we had a big part in letting that slip away."

The Stars are trying to work their way into a playoff spot. They will have to learn how to win on the road if they are to make the playoffs. They have 29 games remaining, 17 on the road.

"We have to play better defensively," Ruff said. "There's a lot of good stuff inside the game that we've done, but again, defensively, we have to play better."

The Stars are 7-13-4 on the road this season.

"We have to find a way to play a good solid road game," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "It hasn't been our best hockey, but we don't have a choice now. We've got to dig deep and find a way to win these hockey games.

"I think we all know where we are sitting, and we have to dig ourselves out of the bottom of the standings here and find a way to get into the playoffs. We know where we are standing, and we have to find a way to get up."

Ruff told the Dallas Morning News, "It's on me to fix it, and I have been looking for better ways to do that all year. There might be ways that help one team more than they help another team, and it's my job to find out what works best for this team.

"This group is not last year's group. It's changed. We have different players altogether, we have players who are at different places because of injuries or simply where they are in their careers. It's my job to adjust to that."

Stars center Tyler Seguin will look forward to the game Tuesday. He has 21 points in 23 career games against Toronto.

The Maple Leafs are 12-8-3 at home, where they play their next four games.

"Definitely, I think it's good for us," Matthews said. "We get home, regroup as a team, get ready for another game (Monday). Last time we played Dallas, they embarrassed us so, we've got to be ready."