Thursday, February 10th, 2012, 6:30 PM CST
First Niagara Center
Opponent Blog: Die By The Blade
The Dallas Stars started their post-All Star break off with a big win over the Ducks. Then there was a loss to the Sharks. A shootout win over the Wild followed, but a disappointing effort against the Coyotes brought everything back down again. So when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, they weren't really that impressed.
"We have to get on a roll. We cant do this, win one, lose one. We have to get on a roll," said Trevor Daley.
The first step was: Beat Columbus. Check, check. The next step is the hard one, and it's one the Stars have just been utterly unable to take this year. We've beat it to death over and over again and yet it must be said once more: They are 0-8-1 on the second night of a back to back.
Last night's blueprint would seem a good one to follow: Get off to a fast start. The Stars took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and would go up 3-0 on a Stephane Robidas tally in the second period before adversity struck in the form of penalty trouble. The final period was a nail-biter but the quick start made it all possible. Taking the crowd out of it early (a crowd that doesn't like the Dallas Stars much) would be a good beginning to finally putting together a little streak and breaking the back-to-back curse.
Buffalo has not been a kind destination to the Dallas Stars. The last time the Stars won a regular season game there was in the 1997-1998 season. They've visited just twice since the lockout, losing both, of course. The last time they were victorious there in any form was the night that Brett Hull kicked the puck to himself, entered the crease legally, in full control of that puck, and won the Stars' first Stanley Cup. You might remember it.
Their last visit was a 5-3 loss in March of 2010, part of the post-Olympic swoon that saw that team miss the playoffs. Marty Turco took the loss that day stopping 38 shots. Richard Bachman will be the one tested this time around.
More on each team after the jump...
"I liked the lines," said Gulutzan after the win. "I thought Tomas Vincour played better. I thought Fiddler's line had a good bounce back and played their regular game. I didn't mind the way things worked out tonight."
So on the heels of those comments we'd expect that group to stay fairly consistent, with perhaps Jake Dowell coming back into the lineup in lieu of Toby Petersen for some "fresh legs", as they like to say.
Glen Gultuzan said that Sheldon Souray would need to be evaluated this morning after taking a puck off the skate Thursday night. His availability is unknown, so it appears as though Mark Fistric could come in to take his place, though Adam Pardy is back with the team after a four assist effort in two games with the Texas Stars in a conditioning stint. They could try to build on that positivity and put him in there. The question then becomes how do you rearrange the pairings? Would Goligoski move up with Robidas?
Gulutzan confirmed after the game last night that Richard Bachman would start in Buffalo. They'll make sure that Kari Lehtonen is fresh for a huge game against the Kings at home on Sunday afternoon.
Lindy Ruff was there that fateful night in June of 1999, and he'll be there tonight as well, though not in the place you'd expect. The Sabres head coach suffered three broken ribs Monday when he collided with defenseman Jordan Leopold during practice. Leopold lost his balance and slid into him. Ruff watched their last game from the press box and will do the same tonight.
His absence did not stop the Sabres from shellacking the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins 6-0 on Wednesday night, however.
Buffalo is 4-0-1 in their last five and feeling good, though they sit a full 10 points back of the number eight team in the East. Like the Ducks, it's too early for them to give up and they'll look to ride this current wave of success as far as it can take them. The Stars stand in their way.
Their only loss in this stretch was a 1-0 shootout game. Ryan Miller technically shutout the Rangers in that loss. He's stopped 154 of 159 in those five games (.969. Wow) with two shutouts. Sabres PR is calling it the best stretch in his career. That's a tough thing for rookie Richard Bachman to counter tonight.
The Stars biggest problem last night was a span of back-to-back-to-back penalties in the second period that resulted in the Blue Jackets' only two goals of the game. They'll hope to keep the Sabres off the special teams scoreboard and hope their recent trend continues. Buffalo is just 3 of their last 36 on the power play (8.3%) over the last 15 games.
The Sabres had been in a pretty nasty goal drought until just recently, and they're excited about coming out of it, says Buffalonews.com...
The Sabres enter tonight's home game against Dallas on their second-best scoring run of the season. They torched Boston, 6-0, Wednesday, tying their season high for a single game. They found the net three times Saturday against the New York Islanders as part of a 4-3 shootout victory.
Here's a little perspective on the two-game total: It matches the output of their previous seven games combined.
"It feels good to score that many goals," center Tyler Ennis said Thursday. "We haven't done that at all this year. A lot of things are coming together right now. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go, but things are looking up right now."