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After Stunning Loss, Stars Start Roadtrip in Buffalo

There isn’t much to be gained by dwelling on the last 15 seconds of the Dallas Stars loss to the Calgary Flames. Mistakes were made and the price was paid.

Calgary is a tough matchup for the Stars. They’re physical in a way that Dallas used to be – that is, before they turned into a medium stature, skill team. Jani Hakanpaa is about the only holdover – even Jamie Benn and Mason Marchment don’t quite fit that role.

The Buffalo Sabres are also a tough matchup for the Stars, but in the way of the Chicago Blackhawks. They stretch the ice, giving up scoring chances to get scoring chances. Pushing pace and stretching the ice is a good way to expose a Dallas team that, with a handful of exceptions, is slow of foot.

Pond hockey is fun to watch, but it isn’t the type of game that Dallas wants to fall into. The struggle against Buffalo is going to be controlling the puck and the pace of the game. If the Stars do that, the team should prevail. If not, this game is likely to be fun to watch, but could easily turn into a frustrating loss.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeny Dadonov (63)
Mason Marchment (27) – Max Domi (18) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Radek Faksa (12) – Ty Dellandrea (10)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Matt Murray (32)

Not much to change. The Stars now have three lines that can score, which will create some interesting matchup challenges for teams that can’t put out three solid defensive pairs.

Luke Glendening and Scott Wedgewood are still out, but are travelling with the team for the extended roadtrip.

Buffalo Sabres Lineup

Jeff Skinner (53) – Tage Thompson (72) – Jordan Greenway (12)
Casey Mittelstadt (37) – Dylan Cozens (24) – Jack Quinn (22)
John-Jason Peterka (77) – Peyton Krebs (19) – Victor Olofsson (71)
Zemgus Girgensons (28) – Tyson Jost (17) – Kyle Okposo (21)

Rasmus Dahlin (26) – Mattias Samuelsson (23)
Owen Power (25) – Henri Jokiharju (10)
Riley Stillman (61) – Ilya Lyubushkin (46)

Craig Anderson (41)
Eric Comrie (31)

Alex Tuch is on injured reserve with an upper body injury, but should be back by the end of the season. Journeyman forward Vinnie Hinostroza was called up as a replacement.

Jordan Greenway was the major addition at the trade deadline for the Sabres, with the team sending two draft picks back to the Minnesota Wild. Greenway adds some bulk and with this game, he is moving to the top line.

Skinner and Okposo are the only skaters on the team in their thirties. The team is offensively creative and defensively challenged and should be interesting to watch. Their top line can be dominant, and both Dahlin and Power on defense are stars in the making.

Samuelsson and Stillman are both drawing back in on defense after sitting with minor injuries. Comrie has been on a good streak in net as of late, but he still sports a 3.56 GAA and a save percentage of .885.

Keys to the Game

Structure. Buffalo will push pace from all positions. The Stars can play fast, but the team’s defensive structure is their one major advantage.

Power vs. Johnston. Power is in the Calder conversation (although everyone seems to be gifting it to the Seattle Kraken’s Matthew Beniers). Johnston has numbers that should put him in that conversation, and a head-to-head matchup is a great way to make distinctions between the two rookies.

Goaltending. Oettinger has had some great games lately, but also some that were ordinary (see Calgary Flames). When the Sabres beat the Stars earlier this season, Anderson was a primary reason. Buffalo tends to give up high danger chances, so their netminder needs to be on. Oettinger could use a return to form.