They were 0-8-1 in the second night of back to backs this season. They hadn't won a game in Buffalo since 1999 (where Brett Hull famously stepped in the crease and scored a legit goal to win the Stanley Cup in game six of the series.) They were 16-0-0 when leading after two periods. Would any of these streaks end tonight?
The Dallas Stars started the game off with several good defensive plays by Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson in close to the goal to keep shots from getting to Kari Lehtonen. When they did get through, the big Finn shut down all chances in tight, and his glove hand was up for first star of the game from Razor Reaugh. Alex Goligoski would fire a shot from the point on the powerplay and receive a tip in front from Michael Ryder to score his 20th goal of the season. The Stars did not allow much in the first frame to get to Lehtonen.
Enter the second frame, where the Stars have played their worst period of hockey in general this season with a lot more goals scored against than for. Tonight, the Stars played probably their best second frame that we've seen in a while. They had a great "pack mentality" on defense. They were boxing Sabres players out of the front of the net, they were getting good backchecking from the forwards on the ice, and Lehtonen showed why he deserves to be in the elite goaltenders in the league discussion. Lehtonen absolutely stoned Drew Stafford on several prime scoring chances for the Sabres forward, who even appeared to be having conversations with his stick because he couldn't beat Lehtonen. It wasn't so much the number of saves Lehtonen made in the middle period as much as it was him coming up with the big save at the big times to not allow Buffalo to get any momentum going.
The Stars took their 1-0 lead into the third, and because they can't seem to make things easy on themselves and always like to keep it interesting, it was quite a crazy third period. Tomas Vincour would score his second goal of the season, and less than a minute later Thomas Vanek would cut the lead to one. The rest of the period was a crazy back and forth, north south game, trading scoring chances and seeing which goaltender would give first. Lehtonen would blink first, and Buffalo's Derek Roy scored with the extra attacker with less than a minute left in the third period. The extra time saw another save of the year candidate when Lehtonen stops Vanek with a pad save to send it to the shootout.
The Stars went with Eriksson in the shootout first, and he was poke checked by Ryan Miller and simply lost the puck and didn't even get a shot off. Benn went second, swung out wide, went blocker side and beat Miller handily. To end the skills competition, Mike Ribeiro gets up to try to win it and Miller stayed with him to make the save. Vincour with his first shootout attempt and couldn't elevate enough to score. Ryder would miss and the Sabres would win in the shootout. Buffalo had Brad Boyes score, then Lehtonen stoned Jason Pominville. Vanek hit the crossbar and the puck never crossed the line to extend the shootout to sudden death. Ennis wouldn't score but Gerbe beat Lehtonen with a backhand to win it for Buffalo.
Tonight, the 16-0-0 record would become 16-0-1. They still haven't won a game in Buffalo since the Stanley Cup winner. They still haven't won on the second night of a back to back and are now 0-8-2 in those situations. The effort and fight was some of the best seen on a second night of back to backs this year. They might not have gotten the full two points, but tonight they should be happy with the overall effort and getting three of four points on the road. They deserved a better fate on the game tonight than they got.