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Back From The Bye Week: Stars Battle The Sabres Tonight

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After 11 days off, the Stars are back in Dallas to face the Sabres as both teams race for a playoff spot.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars and their newly acquired tan lines take the ice after their 11-day break. Head coach Jim Montgomery skated them hard this week in practice to ensure they came back ready to play. Their last game against the Winnipeg Jets was arguably one of their most impressive performances of the year. They were noticeably fast, relentless, and creative. The Stars created turnovers, created many odd man rushes and breakaways and overall looked like a team that played a very efficient skill and speed game. Fans can only hope that the team comes out playing the same way they did against the division-leading Jets on January 19.

Stars fans will see the return of a familiar face on the third pair tonight as Jamie Oleksiak returns back to Dallas after the a trade made a few days ago. Oleksiak will play alongside Taylor Fedun as he jumps over Julius Honka and Connor Carrick as the sixth defenseman on the roster. Oleksiak has played 36 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and scored 11 points (four goals and seven assists) all at even-strength. With March Methot out for the season and the timetable for Stephen Johns unknown, management likes the size Oleksiak brings, which will help some of that lost size on the back end.

The Buffalo Sabres come into tonight’s game in a back-to-back after playing the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. After a hot start, the Sabres are currently two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are one of the most top-heavy forward lines in the league. Keeping Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel off of the score sheet is going to be a big factor for the Stars tonight. They have a combined 96 points on the season with Skinner already netting 30 goals. Their third defensive pair of Marco Scandella and Matt Hunwick has been a huge liability for the Sabres this season. If Montgomery can get the lineups that he wants, the Stars’ top forwards will have plenty of scoring chances.

Keep An Eye On:

  • Stars’ shuffled forward lines. The Dallas Stars are a much bigger threat when they spread their wealth through the lineup as fans saw on January 19 against the Jets.
  • Miro Heiskanen versus Rasmus Dahlin. The two rookie defensemen going head-to-head will be quite the competition as they battle Elias Pettersson for the Calder Trophy.
  • Jeff Skinner. The pending UFA winger is fourth in the league in goals.
  • Denis Gurianov is in the lineup. He was recalled this morning and wasn’t skating on the ice, but coach Montgomery indicated he will draw into the lineup while Valeri Nichushkin takes a scratch.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Jason Spezza
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun

Ben Bishop

Buffalo Sabres Lineup

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Tage Thompson - Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Pominville
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Evan Rodrigues

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian
Marco Scandella - Matt Hunwick

Carter Hutton