Buffalo Sabres (8-9-2) vs.
Dallas Stars (16-4-0)
1. Can the Sabres break out of their first period funk?
Kudos to the always excellent @SabresStats for this one - the Sabres have given up 9 shots and one goal in the first period of each of their last three games. Getting outshot and going into the second period down 1-0 in each contest, the Sabres have done a decent job of going 0-1-2 and managing a few points, but of course they'd prefer to take a lead - or at least a tie - into the final 40 minutes.
2. Will anyone besides O'Reilly light the lamp?
The Sabres have struggled offensively, scoring just four goals in their last three games - and three of those have come off of the stick of Ryan O'Reilly. Sam Reinhart has the fourth (and had another taken away by the universally loved replay challenge) and Rasmus Ristolainen is still looking strong with seven points in his last six games, but the Sabres need their secondary scorers to start stepping up in order to keep up with a fully formed team like Dallas.
3. Can the Sabres close the gap in the faceoff circle?
In their last meeting, the Stars dominated the faceoff circle, winning 46 draws to Buffalo's 29, helping them to control play for much of the game. For the Sabres, Ryan O'Reilly is always good in the dot, but the Sabres young centers - Eichel, Larsson, and Schaller, got smoked by Dallas the last time these teams played. Faceoffs aren't everything, but they do impact possession, and if the Sabres can manage to even out the draws, they'll have a much better chance to slow Dallas down.
Projected BUF lines
Pysyk - Franson
Projected DAL lines
Roussel - Eakin - Nichushkin