Mitch Marner put on a magic show, Freddy was steady, and the Toronto Maple Leafs came out on top in a tough road matchup in Dallas.

Your game in ten:

1. The first period started out as a bit of a defensive battle as both teams struggled to generate high-danger chances for the first 10 minutes. Finally, out of nowhere, Mitch Marner found Auston Matthews with a beautiful no-look pass and Toronto’s best goal scorer made no mistake. William Nylander followed this up with a nice spin-around pass to find John Tavares, but Ben Bishop came up with a big save to keep the Stars within one.

Dallas outplayed Toronto throughout the last five minutes to the period, and the Leafs weren’t able to escape the first with a lead. Frederik Andersen made a series of nice saves to put an end to a dangerous shift, but Denis Gurianov quickly jumped over the boards to tie it up. Poor neutral zone defense led to the goal; Alexander Kerfoot got beat by Gurianov’s speed, while both Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl were too far out-wide to back him up. While the Leafs outshot the Stars 12-10 in the first, there weren’t too many high-danger chances, and a 1-1 tie felt like a fair result. This was a clean period, with neither team taking a penalty and no obvious missed calls.

2. The second period got off to a much quicker start, with both teams trading chances early on. John Tavares and Zach Hyman had a two-on-one a minute in, but Hyman decided to shoot and Bishop made the stop look easy. Andersen responded with a couple of nice saves shortly after before once again, Toronto’s top scoring line put on a show.

Auston Matthews made a nice play to control a Travis Dermott stretch pass and flip it to Marner in the neutral zone. Mitch Marner made yet another beautiful no-look pass to Hyman, who slipped the puck under Bishop’s pads on the breakaway. Just like that, the Leafs had their lead back five minutes in.

Both teams then decided to trade-off powerplay opportunities, with Cody Ceci taking a roughing penalty and Miro Heiskanen holding a dancing Marner. However, neither man-advantage looked overly dangerous, so the Leafs maintained their one-goal lead at the halfway mark.

With eight minutes to go, Jamie Oleksiak gave the puck right to Andreas Johnsson, who fired a hard wrist-shot off the post. As Bishop thanked his best friend, Tyson Barrie teed up a slapshot off the rebound and extended Toronto’s lead to 3-1. While the Leafs should have gone into the intermission with a two-goal lead, Cody Ceci got caught puck watching with under a minute left and an open Radulov beat Andersen to put the Stars back within one.

3.  Leafs fans may have been hoping for a boring third period to preserve the lead, but the Stars made it known in the opening seconds that this wasn’t going to be the case. Fortunately, Frederik Andersen came up big, but Bishop quickly returned the favour by stopping Matthews on a two-on-one. Trevor Moore also came close to extending the lead, but it was Nylander who got the job done by kicking a rebound up to his stick off of a Muzzin point shot. Nylander’s 24th of the season extended his goal-streak to five games and gave the Leafs a two-goal lead with 16 minutes to play.

Toronto dictated play for the next two minutes, but the Tavares line got caught out on the ice for a little bit too long and Miro Heiskanen fired a wrist shot through traffic that was tipped home by Radulov. All of a sudden, the game was back within one before Hyman took a tripping penalty two minutes later.

Fortunately, Faksa responded with a penalty just 23 seconds later and the Leafs also found a way to kill off Jason Spezza‘s interference penalty later in the frame. Coming out of the final commercial break with 2:30 to go, Keefe went with the Hyman-Matthews-Marner line to preserve the lead along with a Muzzin-Ceci pair on the backend. Bishop left the net with 1:45 remaining, but despite a few offensive-zone faceoffs with the man-advantage, the Stars could not find a way to beat Andersen in the final minutes. A nice stick check by Hyman with 20 seconds left helped to seal the win as Johnsson went end-to-end to notch an empty-net goal with three seconds left.

4. The best player in this game was Mitch Marner, who had two spectacular assists and was dancing all over the ice. Tavares was a little bit quiet tonight, and with just one “real” power play opportunity, the Leafs needed someone else to step up offensively at five-on-five. It felt like Marner decided to put the team on his back. Despite the five goals on the scoreboard, none of the other lines looked all that dangerous consistently.

Zach Hyman‘s goal was his 14th in 32 games and he also had shots on both a two-on-one and partial breakaway, in addition to some yeoman’s work on the late penalty-kill and 6-on-5 situations, contesting pucks, closing down space, and winning battle after battle.

5.  The main story heading into the break was the struggles of Frederik Andersen, but the goaltender has responded nicely with a pair of wins coming out of the All-Star weekend. He stopped 34 of 36 against Nashville on Monday followed by 31 of 34 tonight. His defense let him down in a big way for the first two goals and he didn’t have much of a chance when Radulov tipped-home Heiskanen’s point shot. Andersen was good when he had to be tonight — the Leafs will need more of that in order to make up ground in the Eastern Conference.

6. Rasmus Sandin was outstanding against Nashville, and while he was left off the scoreboard tonight, he showed his ability to brush off contact. He took a big hit from Jamie Benn in the opening minutes but stayed on his feet, regained the puck, and quickly made a solid breakout pass.

He also took a rough hit-from-behind from Blake Comeau and another pretty big hit from Roman Polak. Ultimately, Sandin didn’t seem too fazed by these physical plays, as he continued to play his game by making crisp breakout passes. He blocked five shots, played 12:51, and played on the right-side on the penalty kill when Ceci was in the box. He wasn’t as spectacular as he was on Monday night, but he still fared quite well in a tougher game to play in.

7.  Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the Jake Muzzin trade. The Leafs continue to have zero regrets. The 6’3″ defender played 22:18 tonight, including the key minutes with the extra attacker out, and he looked perfectly comfortable against a physical Dallas roster. Getting him back in the lineup was just what the team needed heading out of the break; I have to assume that Kyle Dubas has Muzzin’s agent on speed dial as he looks to agree on an extension. As the Leafs players would say, Muzzin has been a great call-up from the Marlies.

8.  Jason Spezza was in the starting lineup in his return to Dallas and he received a nice video tribute during the first commercial break. While he didn’t find the scoresheet tonight, he’s scoring around a 40-point pace and gives the Leafs a strong right-handed faceoff option for the league-minimum salary.

It sure seems like Spezza was loved by the players in Dallas, and based on what we hear from the Leafs players, he seems to be loved in Toronto as well. The Leafs penalty kill featured Engvall, Kapanen, Marner, Hyman, Kerfoot, Johnsson, and Moore tonight, so it’s tough to believe that Spezza was scratched at the start of the season primarily due to his inability to play shorthanded. It looked like he might hit waivers at one point this season. I’m thankful that he survived the Babcock-era.

9.  Coming out of the break, Sheldon Keefe has gone with Pierre Engvall between Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen, leaving Kerfoot to play the wing with Tavares and Nylander. Personally, I think Engvall has looked the most comfortable on the wing, but it’s nice to know that he can handle that role if needed. Last year, the Leafs didn’t have another third-line center that they were comfortable with, so Nylander ended up in a smaller role in between Marleau and Brown come playoff time.

With five goals in five games, Nylander is now flirting with a 39-goal pace and his transition skill is a huge factor at five-on-five. It’s tough to complain about Toronto’s center-right wing duos, and the team’s scoring depth should get a boost once Johnsson returns to himself. Like Johnsson, Kerfoot wasn’t great tonight, either, but this was quite uncharacteristic of him. While bad games are bound to happen, someone new seems to step up offensively every night and the Leafs are scoring 4+ goals in game after game as a result.

10. This felt like a big win. The Leafs had just come off of a big road win against Nashville, while the Stars have been red-hot for months now. Dallas has not been an easy city to play in, but the Leafs found a way to continue their post-break momentum heading into a Saturday night matchup against Ottawa.

Any team can beat any team in the NHL, but this was the toughest matchup of the week on paper and the Leafs got the job done. Let’s hope the team can take care of business against a weaker Senators lineup, setting the stage for the redemption opportunity against Florida on Tuesday.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot AttemptsToronto Maple Leafs vs. Dallas Stars

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Dallas Stars

Game Highlights: Leafs 5 vs. Stars 3