Shots: Sabres 22 | Stars 29
Sabres Goal Scorers: Jimmy Vesey (6), Rasmus Dahlin (3), Michael Frolik (6), Zemgus Girgensons (9)
Stars Goal Scorers: Jamie Benn (12)
Plus-One: Ullmark Stands Strong
Despite his team being out-shot and out-chanced in this contest, Linus Ullmark was sensational. With 28 saves on 29 shots-faced, his strong play kept the Sabres ahead in a game that could have easily gone the other way.
When the Stars tied things up early in the second period, the game had a familiar feeling to it. Fortunately, Ullmark was able to stop Dallas’ other 15 shots on-goal in the middle frame, allowing his team to regain the lead. To their credit, the Sabres defense did an outstanding job in the third period, limiting their opponents to just five shots.
With tonight’s win, Ullmark has emerged victorious in five of his last six starts.
Plus-Two: Penalty Killers
All season long, the Sabres’ penalty-kill unit has left a lot to be desired. Recently, fans have seen subtle improvements to that group. Tonight was perhaps their best performance of the season, thwarting all four of the Stars’ opportunities on the evening.
Michael Frolik notched his first goal as a Sabre with a short handed, empty-net tally to save his team from an ill-timed roughing penalty called on Lawrence Pilut. Buffalo had several shots on Ben Bishop while down a man throughout the contest, but hat one proved to be the final dagger.
If the Sabres can continue to remain effective on the penalty-kill, their fortunes could shift. On the outside looking into the Eastern Confrence playoff race, special teams will be critical down the stretch.
Plus-Three: Coming Up Big on the Road
The Sabres have experienced more than their share of difficulty on the road this season, posting a 8-13-4 record in comparison to their 14-6-3 mark at KeyBank Center. Though an argument can be made that they were out-played in this one, they held strong when they could have easily folded following a tough second period.
Only a handful of other teams in the NHL have such a stark contrast on the road versus at home. Every point counts from here on out, and while only 16 road games remain, they’ll need to show the same resolve as they did tonight in order to keep themselves in the postseason conversation.
Even: Little Bit of Luck
It’s tough to really criticize the Sabres in a 4-1 win, but this one could have easily got out of hand. Ullmark was hot and kept them alive despite a pretty lopsided first 40 minutes. The only reason this doesn’t qualify as a “minus” is because of how well they preserved their lead in the third period.
Still, if Dallas converts on Pilut’s penalty and forces overtime, we could be having a very different conversation. That didn’t happen, so we can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy another big win as the Sabres collect their third consecutive decision.