Here Comes the Cavalry as Sabres Host Stars

Defensive reinforcements give Buffalo optimism against Dallas

Game 64

Buffalo Sabres (32-27-4) vs. Dallas Stars (34-17-13)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Stars Blog: Defending Big D

Know Your Opponent

Dallas Stars

Record: 34-17-13 | 81 PTS

Division Ranking: 1st in Central

Last Game: 5-4 Loss vs Calgary Flames

PP: 8th (23.0%)

PK: 6th (83.1%)

What to Watch

1. Closing Window

Games in hand are all fun and games until the games played number increases without a corresponding increase in standings points. The Sabres enter their matchup against the Stars with four losses in the last five games. Other than the 3rd period shellacking against the Bruins, each game has been tight to the end. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game of horseshoes or hand grenades. The Islanders and Penguins have increased their lead on Buffalo to 6 and 5 points respectively. The Sabres still have 3 games in hand on the Islanders, but they have no longer have any room for error. It’s tough to say a game against the Central Division leader is a must win, but it’s the truth. Buffalo can’t afford to allow the standings separation to continue if they want to break the playoff drought.

2. Defensive Reinforcements

There was a welcome sight at today’s morning skate; Samuelsson and Stillman were no longer wearing non-contact jerseys. It appears both will return to the lineup after missing the last couple games with upper body injuries. With Samuelsson providing a steady defensive presence, look for Dahlin to be more aggressive on offense. Stillman’s reunification with Lyubushkin provides Buffalo with a shutdown pair that could slow down Stars’ stacked top line. The Sabres are not a team that can sustain success without key members of their defense. Hopefully, the cavalry has arrived just in time.

3. Keep it Clean

There are many reasons for the success of the Dallas Stars this year. One consistent feature has been their excellent special teams play. They are ranked in the top 10 for both powerplay and penalty kill this season. The Sabres powerplay should be able to continue their success, but Buffalo’s penalty kill is cause for concern. The penalty kill currently ranks 31st in the league with a brutal 72.9% success rate. The Sabres will need to play clean and keep their heads if frustration begins to set in. Against the Islanders, the team was noticeable frustrated with the suffocating style of play employed against them. Dahlin took a slashing penalty against Bo Horvat after being hounded in the defensive zone. The Islanders’ powerplay didn’t convert but their man advantage is ranked 29th in the league. Frustration penalties like that will cost Buffalo against Dallas. They must find the right balance between playing intense and playing angry.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Skinner - Thompson - Greenway

Mittelstadt - Cozens - Quinn

Peterka - Krebs - Olofsson

Girgensons - Jost - Okposo


Samuelsson – Dahlin

Power – Jokiharju

Stillman – Lyubushkin

Starter: Comrie

Dallas Stars


Robertson - Hintz - Pavelski

Benn - Johnson - Dadonov

Marchment - Domi - Seguin

Kiviranta – Faksa – Dellandrea


Heiskanen - Miller

Lindell - Hakanpaa

Suter – Lundkvist

Starter: Oettinger