Preview: Stars Host Sabres in Annual Visit to Dallas

The Buffalo Sabres will meet the Dallas Stars for the second time in ten days. This time the two clubs will get together at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Since the last meeting, where the Sabres skated to a 4-1 victory, the two teams have headed in different directions.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Stars have really struggled, losing three of their last four since the Jan. 16th meeting. Overall in the month of January, they’re 3-5-3 and have dropped to four points back of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference entering play tonight. Dallas also sits six points back of third place in the Central Division.

Injuries have been a huge story for the Stars throughout the season and the goaltending has continued to be inconsistent for the second straight year. Combine that with the down years of key players like Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza and John Klingberg it’s easy to see why the Stars find themselves where they are in the standings.

The Sabres, on the other hand, have won three of four games since the last meeting and are riding a three-game winning streak, all of which were in overtime. They’re having a good month so far, going 7-3-1, and have climbed back into the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference. Entering play tonight the Sabres are five points back of the final wild-card spot and six points out of third place in the Atlantic Division.

Both of these teams badly need points tonight but for different reasons. The Stars are looking to get back on the winning side of things and get themselves closer to a playoff spot, while the Sabres are looking to win four straight games for the first time in two years and continue their push to be a legitimate playoff contender.

Buffalo Sabres at Dallas Stars

American Airlines Center – 8:30 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – MSG-B & FS-SW

2016-17 Season Series: January 16th, Sabres 4 Stars 1

Dallas Stars – 19-20-10 – 48 Points

Home Record: 12-7-6

Hot Players: Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves

Key Injuries: Mattias Janmark, Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky

*Projected lines:


Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza

Lori Korpikoski – Devin Shore – Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie – Adam Cracknell – Brett Ritchie


Esa Lindell – John Klingberg

Patrick Nemeth – Stephen Johns

Dan Hamhuis – Jordie Benn


Antti Niemi

* Lines subject to change


Buffalo Sabres – 20-18-9 – 49 Points

Road Record: 9-10-6

Hot Players:  Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel

Key Injuries: Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe, and Johan Larsson

**Projected lines:


Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart

Kyle Okposo – Ryan O’Reilly – Tyler Ennis

Evander Kane – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson – Cal O’Reilly – William Carrier


Rasmus Ristolainen – Dmitry Kulikov

Zach Bogosian – Cody Franson

Taylor Fedun – Justin Falk


Anders Nilsson

** Lines subject to change. 

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Sabres have been the worst team in the NHL this season in point production from their defense. Almost the entirety of the point total has come from Rasmus Ristolainen and his 28 points. However, over the last few games, the point production from the blue line has come to life. Cody Franson has four points in the last three games and Zach Bogosian has points in two straight, including the game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The improved depth scoring is one of the keys to the Sabres recent winning streak.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] The goaltending numbers for the Stars continue to be among the worst in the league. Lehtonen sports a 2.84 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Antti Niemi’s numbers are just as bad with a 3.14 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. Having two goaltenders who are barely over a .900 save percentage in today’s NHL is a huge problem. It’s still pretty shocking that the goaltending issue was never addressed, and the team is paying the price this season. Niemi will start tonight for the Stars.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Sabres are 2-6 in American Airlines Center in their franchise history. A stat that certainly bodes well for the Stars tonight. The last Sabres win in Dallas came on Jan. 15th, 2009, a 5-4 shootout win.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Anders Nilsson will be back in net for the Sabres tonight. Nilsson picked up a win in his last game against the Detroit Red Wings last week. He’s played very well at home this season but has much worse numbers on the road with a 2-5-3 record, 3.11 goals against average and .905 save percentage.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Last week Jamie Benn left Buffalo a very unhappy guy after breaking three sticks in frustration. He has five points in his last five games and I expect him to give the Sabres all the can handle tonight. Benn is one of the most dangerous players in the league and has the ability to take over a game to put his team over the top.