TORONTO - Mitch Marner and William Nylander scored 20 seconds apart with under nine minutes to go in the third period, moments after Dallas equalized as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Stars 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Nylander had two goals to go along with an assist for Toronto (26-15-8), while Auston Matthews, with his NHL-leading 41st of the season, and John Tavares scored and added two assists each.

Ilya Samsonov made 27 saves for the Leafs, who scored three times on the power play after falling 3-2 to the New York Islanders on Monday coming out of the NHL all-star break.

Evgeni Dadonov with two, including on a third-period penalty shot, Jamie Benn and Wyatt Johnston replied for Dallas (31-14-6).

Scott Wedgewood made 26 stops with the Stars resting No. 1 goaltender Jake Oettinger following Tuesday's 2-1 victory in Buffalo.

Dadonov scored his 12th, and second of the night, on a penalty shot with 8:55 left in the third to tie the score 3-3 after getting bearhugged by Leafs defenceman Mark Giordano on a breakaway.

But Marner responded just 32 seconds later with his 22nd off a nice feed from Matthews.

Nylander then scored his second of the night, and 25th overall, just 20 seconds after that for a 5-3 lead.

Johnston scored his 15th with 1:25 left in regulation to make it 5-4 after Nylander missed the empty net looking for just his second NHL hat trick - and first since February 2017 - but Toronto held on.

After the Leafs knotted things early in the second on a man advantage, Matthews gave the home side the lead at 12:37 on another power play when his attempted saucer pass across the crease to Nylander went in off Stars defenceman Esa Lindell for a 3-2 lead.

Samsonov had to make a big stop on a Tyler Seguin breakaway as the goal was still being announced inside Scotiabank Arena to keep Toronto in front before the teams scored three times in a 52-seconds span.

The Leafs, who beat the Stars 4-1 in Dallas on Oct. 26, opened the scoring at 6:34 of the first when Nylander blasted a one-timer for his 24th after Radek Faska hit the post at the other end just over two minutes in.

Dallas, which sat 7-1-1 over its last nine heading into Wednesday, gave up a short-handed break to Matthew Knies on its first man advantage that Wedgewood denied before connecting on its second opportunity when Benn finished off a slick passing play with his ninth at 14:52 on a shot that went under Samsonov's glove.

Dadonov pushed the visitors ahead 2:35 later when he cut into the middle off the rush and fired his 11th through the Toronto goaltender's five-hole.

Johnston then nearly made it 3-1 in the dying seconds, but Samsonov was bailed out by his left post for a second time in the period.

Tavares got the Leafs back even at 3:40 of the second on a power play when he snapped his 15th, and third in as many games after going a career-worst nine straight contests without scoring.

Named MVP of the all-star game in Toronto on Saturday after leading his team to a victory in the four-team mini tournament, Matthews nearly scored on a short-handed 2-on-1 with Marner later in the period before breaking through with his eighth goal in as many games.


Toronto defenceman Jake McCabe was left bloodied by a late Mason Marchment hit in the second that went unpunished, but didn't miss any action.


Toronto remains without injured depth forwards Calle Jarnkrok (broken knuckle) and David Kampf (undisclosed).


Wednesday marked 48 years since Toronto legend Darryl Sittler became the only player in NHL history register 10 points in a game.

The Hall of Fame centre had four goals and six assists against Boston at Maple Leaf Gardens on Feb. 7, 1976.


Toronto visits Ottawa on Saturday, while Dallas is at Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2024.