FARMERS BRANCH, Tex. — Mitch Marner and Jason Robertson will make National Hockey League history as soon as each steps onto the ice on Tuesday night.
When the Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars meet at the American Airlines Center, for the first time an NHL game will feature two players who are on a point streak of at least 18 consecutive games.
Marner will look to extend his Leafs record to 20 games after breaking the mark of 18, set by Darryl Sittler and tied by Eddie Olczyk; at 18 games, Robertson is two off the Stars franchise record set by Brian Bellows in the 1985-86 season, when the team was based in Minnesota.
Marner has 26 points (nine goals and 17 assists) in his past 19 games. Robertson’s numbers have been more eye-popping, as he has 34 points (21 goals and 13 assists) in his past 18 games.
Leafs star Auston Matthews, not exactly an offensive slouch, is wowed by what each has accomplished.
“It’s just the consistency factor night in, night out,” Matthews said, referring to Marner, after the Leafs practiced Monday afternoon at a rink in this Dallas suburb.
“It’s not easy. There’s competing every night no matter what the situation is, no matter what the game gives you, just sticking with it.
“I can’t say enough great things about him. He’s such a leader on this team. I don’t think anybody is really too surprised. He can get as hot as anybody and just to roll through games like that and be so consistent, it’s impressive. He has been really turning the tables for our team.”
How about the play of Robertson, who will face younger brother Nick on Tuesday night?
“He’s on fire,” Matthews said. “I’m not sure it’s much of an emergence. He has been scoring at a really high pace in the last couple of years. (Dallas) has been playing really well and it’s going to be another a good test for us.”
There will be a couple of lineup changes for the Leafs following a 4-3 overtime loss in Tampa on Saturday against the Lightning.
Rather than put forward Denis Malgin — who will sit for the third game in a row and fifth time in seven games — back in, the Leafs recalled Semyon Der-Arguchintsev from the Toronto Marlies and the 22-year-old will make his NHL debut .
After earning praise from coach Sheldon Keefe in the early weeks of the season, Malgin has fallen out of favour.
On the Toronto blue line, Conor Timmins will play for the first time since he was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 23. Mac Hollowell will sit after playing in the past six games.
Matt Murray will start in goal for the Leafs, and Keefe indicated that Ilya Samsonov will be in net on Thursday when the Leafs play the Los Angeles Kings to kick off a three-game home stand.
The Leafs have gained at least one point in 16 of their past 17 games, going 11-1-5. They haven’t lost in regulation since falling 4-2 against Pittsburgh on Nov. 11.
The Stars, meanwhile, are in first place in the Central Division. Since losing two in a row in regulation in early November, Dallas is 6-1-4.
The Leafs have kept Robertson under control in previous meetings, as Toronto is one of six NHL teams that Robertson has not scored a goal against. In four career games versus the Leafs, Robertson has three assists.
Keefe knows, though, the harsh reality in trying to stop Robertson from making an offensive impact.
“Pucks find him at an incredible rate, which speaks to the intelligence that he plays with,” Keefe said. “He has a great finishing ability. Right now, he’s finding a lot of pucks that come to him in good spots and he’s making good on them. Incredibly smart player with great hands.”
In 11 career games against the Stars, Marner has 16 points (two goals and 14 assists).
Timmins was glad that for the first time in the NHL, he will be on Marner’s side, rather than trying to keep him in check.
“He thinks two plays ahead, so you have to be ready for anything when you are defending, and close on him quick,” Timmins said. “(The streak) is impressive, it’s well-deserved. He puts in the work and it’s really cool to watch in person.”