The Sabres aren’t exactly in the basement, but they’re close, 10 points out of a playoff berth and few chances left to get there. Tonight they’re without captain Jack Eichel as he serves the first of a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Carl Soderberg in Saturday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Stars scratched Taylor Fedun tonight in favor of Jamie Oleksiak, a decision which did not seem to have a lot of impact on the game, but was noted anyway.
Hockey was certainly being played in Buffalo tonight. Shots were counted, penalties were killed, but the first period was just kind of there.
The Sabres opened the evening with two back-to-back penalties for delay of game. That’s right, the dumbest penalty in hockey, but twice. Jamie Benn had the best scoring chance on either of those power play opportunities, but was robbed at point blank by Sabres’ goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Something else to note here: Ullmark’s twitter handle is “ice bear dude.”
The Stars followed this up with two penalties of their own, but at least they were more interesting. First, Joel L’Esperance took a slashing penalty against Matt Hunwick, while the Sabres were still killing off the Zach Bogosian penalty, meaning they had 4-on-4 hockey for 42 seconds. Then Alexander Radulov took a hooking penalty against Jeff Skinner.
The most notable thing to happen there was a shorthanded chance by Blake Comeau.
The Stars held the advantage in shots on goal for most of the period, but the Sabres were allowed to catch up in the latter half.
Shots: Stars 10, Sabres 13
Score: Stars 0, Sabres 0
Definitely more exciting things happening in the second period, though it took a while to get going.
At seven minutes in, Dallas carried the puck down into the Buffalo zone. Some weak defense by the Sabres opened up the front of the net. The first shot by Jason Dickinson was rebuffed by Ullmark, but Roope Hintz picked up the rebound. And he really, really picked it up.
The puck bounced in and out of the net so fast that for about 10 seconds, only Hintz was really sure it had gone in at all. The goal light never did actually come on, but the referee eventually called the goal and Hintz got his fist bumps.
A broken stick caught Benn in the neck in the middle of the period, but he was only on the bench for a bit getting checked out.
With a little under 13 minutes left in the second, Vladimir Sobotka tripped Dickinson on his way down the ice. Sobotka went to the box and the Stars went on the power play, where Hintz got his second of the game.
The Sabres stayed ahead in shots on goal even with the Stars scoring twice and having the man advantage in the period. However, it’s goals that win hockey games, and the Stars got two in this period.
Shots: Stars 20, Sabres 24
Score: Stars 2, Sabres 0
Andrew Cogliano had a tripping penalty on Kyle Okposo. Jeff Skinner rang the crossbar on the power play, but the Sabres weren’t able to get on the score board.
Other than the four penalties, the third period was more of the first. The Stars turtled a bit, didn’t cover themselves in glory in the shot share, but were already up two against a team missing their leading scorer. and they didn’t go down much either.
With a little under three minutes left in the game, the Sabres pulled their goaltender. Hintz did not get his hat trick, but the Sabres didn’t score either.
More importantly, midway through the third period, Ben Bishop became the third netminder in franchise history with three shutouts in a row. The streak in minutes is the second longest in franchise history as well.
Shots: Stars 27, Sabres 35
Score: Stars 2, Sabres 0
The Stars will be in Minnesota on Thursday. Puck drop versus Minnesota Wild will be at 7 p.m. CST.