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Dallas Stars Use Another Big Third Period to Best Buffalo Sabres 3-0

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Antti Niemi was spectacular when he had to be and Jamie Benn did the rest in the third.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Earlier this week in Buffalo Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn took a cross-checking penalty late in the third period that threatened to change the complexion of a game the Stars narrowly led.

He did it again tonight. Again it was cross-checking - but this time he took matters into his own hands, heroically potting two goals down the stretch to give his Stars some breathing room in an eventual 3-0 win over the Sabres.

Buffalo succeeded in clogging up the works for long stretches tonight and the Stars had the turnover bug bite them a little too frequently, but the power play finally came through in third with Tyler Ennis off for holding.

The Stars kicked things off with a turnover and a golden scoring chance for Matt Moulson just 17 seconds into the first, which turned out to be appropriate preparation for what laid ahead for a stellar Antti Niemi.

The game was a wild back-and-forth affair until the first commercial break before Dallas settled things down with an Antoine Roussel goal in transition that Chad Johnson would surely like back.

He and Niemi were terrific the rest of the way and the Stars held a territorial and chance advantage after the first, but just the lone tally.

In the second period Jamie Oleksiak made something of a statement just two minutes in when Nicolas Deslauriers made one of the bigger mistakes of the night in challenging the former to fisticuffs.

You can see the video on Defending Big D here. And you should if you have not. Spoiler alert: Oleksiak landed more punches than the Stars had shots through 40 minutes.

Armed with that bit of momentum and crowd pleasing the Stars did - nothing. Three power plays, including a double minor for high-sticking yielded next-to-nothing in the way of shots on goal, and the Sabres responded in kind with a lack of anything resembling threatening.

Five shots were all either team could muster in the second - but the real headline of the period was Jason Demers leaving the game with an undisclosed injury six minutes in, prompting Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka to play musical chairs on a pairing with Johnny Oduya.

Just like that the Stars were without a third of the defense that helped them to the 16-4-0 record in Jordie Benn (flu) and Demers.

And then the third period happened, as it so magically has this year. Intransigence? Five defensemen? Sickness evidently a threat to team health? No problem.

Dallas managed just 15 shots on goal in the game's first 40 minutes and then pummeled Chad Johnson's net with 17 in the third period as Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin went collecting points again.

Jason Spezza's shot on the power play found Jamie Benn's stick and a gaping net to make it 2-0, and before JeffK could announce it Patrick Sharp and Tyler Seguin passed neatly to the captain streaking down the left side to put the nail in Buffalo's coffin 3-0.

The only thing left to do was to get Antti Niemi his second shutout of the season, which the Stars handled with aplomb in a nicely uneventful final few minutes. Niemi stopped 22 shots on the night, and most of the work came in a frantic first period.

17-4-0. They continue to get it done. It's Ottawa coming up on Tuesday, Turkey Day, and a date with the Canucks on Black Friday.

What an embarrassment of riches.