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Well-rested Stars hand Sabres tough loss

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Sabres can’t overcome fatigue as they close out January

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a gusty 5-4 victory on Tuesday over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Sabres quick roadie continued on to Dallas for a tilt with the Stars. It was the first game for Dallas since January 19, and the team came out of the gate playing as though they’d had 12 days of rest.

The Sabres, on the other hand, looked very much like a team that had played a tight game the night before. A sluggish start led to an early deficit, when Jamie Benn tucked a neat pass from Tyler Fedun between the wickets of a sliding Linus Ullmark at 8:39 of the first period.

Buffalo would eventually find their legs, and by the end of the first, the team had managed a flurry of shots that brought he teams to a 11-11 deadlock. Despite their opportunities, Stars netminder Ben Bishop kept the Sabres off of the scoreboard.

The second period was a bit more wide-open than the first. As the midway point passed, the teams consistently traded end-to-end chances for a few minutes. The action was likely the most fun to watch span of the evening, but probably wasn’t best for a Sabres squad that left the ice fewer than 24 hours ago.

Still, through two periods, it was a clean game on the scoresheet. Each team had only one penalty, which they both killed off. Dallas held a slight advantage in shots (20-16,) but the Sabres led in most of the remaining standard statistical categories.

At 15:32 of the third, fan favorite Marco Scandella appeared to have beaten noted Sabre-killer Bishop, however, the goal was waved off after a brief review by the official.

Buffalo appeared to be as tired as a team on the backend of a back-to-back could be. Even Rasmus Dahlin was uncharacteristically sloppy in his play; despite the all-star break, one has to wonder if the marathon NHL season is beginning to catch up to some of the team’s younger players.

Benn and Jack Eichel had a moment as the tenth minute of the third. A crushing hit from behind sent Eichel to the boards head-first. the play went uncalled, and Eichel did his best to exact his revenge, but he bounced harmlessly off of the Stars’ captain and the pair skated to their respective benches with little but a few words exchanged. It was perhaps the most spirited the Sabres had looked to that point.

Nothing really seemed to connect for the Sabres throughout the matchup - touch passes missed their mark, easy plays up the boards were botched - it was the type of play that loses midseason games 1-0. It’s fine if it happens once or twice, but...the Sabres have been making a habit of underwhelming performances.

But for a few stretches of intensity and a chaotic last minute, it was an uninspiring effort for the Sabres. One has to wonder what could have been if the team had another defender that could offer some offensive push instead of bumbling the puck off the boards onto a forechecking forward and hanging Ullmark out to dry.

I’m sure Lawrence Pilut learned a lot watching from the pressbox as the Sabres slowly sunk below mediocrity. Hopefully, he can turn those lessons into goals as he will surely be re-injected into this deflated lineup for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. After tonight’s performance, he has to be. Right? Right?!

Final: Stars 1, Sabres 0

Shots on goal: Sabres 30 | Stars 27

Sabres goal: None

Stars goals: Jamie Benn (19)

Three stars of the game

  1. Jamie Benn (GWG)
  2. Ben Bishop (30 saves on 30 shots)
  3. Linus Ullmark (26 saves on 27 shots)