Coming off of a frustrating loss to the Islanders, the Maple Leafs are looking to turn their home form around when they host the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

There are some favourable statistics to highlight entering this matchup for the Leafs: They have won five in a row over the Stars — and eight of 11 in the Auston Matthews era — including a convincing 4-1 win in late October. Tonight’s starter, Scott Wedgewood, has lost four of five to the Leafs over his career with a .887 save percentage vs. Toronto. They’re also catching Dallas tired in the second half of a back-to-back after a 2-1 win in Buffalo, although how the Stars won the game should catch the team’s attention; Pete DeBoer labeled it a “goalie win” and a victory “stolen” by Jake Oettinger.

The challenge against a 31-13-6 team with strong all-around five-on-five numbers is nonetheless significant, and when it comes to exploiting any rest advantage, the Stars are a team that rolls four lines as well as anyone, with 11 of their top 12 forwards fitting inside the 12-17-minute range (Jason Robertson leads the way at 18:14 per night).

DeBoer balances out his top nine — Robertson-Hintz on line one, Duchene-Seguin on line two, and Benn-Pavelski on line three — with a much different approach to ice-time distribution than the Leafs‘ under Sheldon Keefe. Toronto’s average ice time among regular forwards ranges from Bobby McMann’s 9:17 to Mitch Marner’s 21:27, with three forwards above 20 minutes per night and four above Jason Robertson’s team-leading 18:14 mark. The Stars also have eight forwards above .5 points per game compared to the Leafs‘ four (plus Max Domi right on the .50 mark).

With the Leafs chasing the game for a good portion of the night plus David Kampf and Calle Jarnkrok’s absences in the bottom six, the ice time was even more top-heavy against the Islanders on Monday, with all of William Nylander, Marner, and Auston Matthews clocking over 24 minutes, the fourth line below eight minutes, and all of the third line below 11 (including Nick Roberton’s 8:38). Depending on the score situation, more of a roll-them-over-the-boards approach from DeBoer may encourage Keefe to get his depth lines a little more involved tonight vs. chasing a top-line matchup with Matthews’ group, but we’ll see how the game shakes out. The first goal of the game could be especially critical against a Stars team that has yet to lose in regulation (8-0-2) when they score first on the road.

Keefe is expected to keep his lineup the same from Monday’s 3-2 loss, including a fifth-straight start for Ilya Samsonov in net.

Game Day Quotes

Stars head coach Pete DeBoer on picking up a 2-1 win over Buffalo on Tuesday night despite getting largely outplayed:

It was a goalie win, no doubt, but we haven’t had many nights when we’ve needed that this year and we haven’t had a lot of them.

We haven’t been that off as a team that many nights this year where we have been out-shot and out-chanced as we were and had our goalie steal us a game. Everybody needs that at some point in the season, and we got it.

I don’t even know where to start (on areas for improvement). Let’s just focus on how good [Jake Oettinger] was and let me worry about that as we get ready for Toronto.

Sheldon Keefe on the difficulty of the matchup vs. the Stars:

Very team deep through four lines and six D. They play hard and are very structured. Very dangerous on the rush. They don’t give you much in their own zone.

It is a significant challenge. It is another good team coming in. We played them well when we were in Dallas, but that was a very long time ago back in game seven of the season. It is a good chance for us to respond to not getting any points the other night.

Max Domi on the challenge against his former team:

They have four lines. They roll them and come at you in waves. There is a lot of depth, and they play as a team, which is a big reason why they have had so much success.

Pete has them all dialed in there. They’re really good defensively. Both goalies are [good] regardless of who is starting. It is going to be a good test for us tonight.

Keefe on the challenge David Kampf and Calle Jarnkrok’s absences present for his team:

I thought we really felt it throughout the game the other night, especially when we made the game 2-2. It was getting down to the final minutes, and when you lose a guy like him and Jarnkrok, it is more of a challenge. We didn’t have Jarnkrok in Winnipeg but did have Kampf, and I thought it was a lot more manageable.

On the penalty kill, I thought the guys did a good job there, whether it was Willy stepping up and taking the initial faceoff or the other guys who filled in.

We need to get more from our bottom guys. This is a Stars group — more than the Islanders the other day — that is going to use four lines and involve everyone. There are not a lot of easy shifts against this team. We are going to need all of our guys to be good throughout the lineup.

Head-to-Head Stats: Maple Leafs vs. Stars

In the season-to-date statistics, the Stars hold the advantage over the Leafs in three out of five offensive categories and three out of five defensive categories.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#23 Matthew Knies – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#18 Noah Gregor – #11 Max Domi – #89 Nick Robertson
#74 Bobby McMann – #29 Pontus Holmberg – #75 Ryan Reaves

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#2 Simon Benoit – #22 Jake McCabe
#55 Mark Giordano – #37 Timothy Liljegren

Starter: #35 Ilya Samsonov
#31 Martin Jones

Scratched: William Lagesson, Conor Timmins
Injured: David Kampf, Calle Jarnkrok, John Klingberg, Joseph Woll

Dallas Stars Projected Lines

#21 Jason Robertson – #24 Roope Hintz – #53 Wyatt Johnston
#27 Mason Marchment – #95 Matt Duchene – #91 Tyler Seguin
#14 Jamie Benn – #18 Sam Steele – #16 Joe Pavelski
#15 Craig Smith – #12 Radek Faksa – #63 Evgenii Dadonov

#55 Thomas Harley – #4 Miro Heiskanen
#20 Ryan Suter – #5 Nils Lundkvist
#23 Esa Lindell – #2 Jani Hakanpaa

Starter: #41 Scott Wedgewood
#29 Jake Oettinger