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At the Rink: Sabres at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Buffalo Sabres have the League's second-worst penalty kill (72.9 percent) but hope to keep the power play of the Dallas Stars, who have the League's second-best unit (28.3 percent) in check on Saturday at American Airlines Center (8 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-SW).

"We've been much better in a lot of areas of the penalty kill. What we haven't been as good at is allowing zone time and allowing time for a power play. When you can prevent that, that's when we've been at our best," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Give a power play extended zone time, like the one we're going to be facing tonight, they're going to take their opportunities."

Bylsma is keeping the Sabres' forward lines and defensive pairs identical from a 3-2 shootout loss at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

Goalie Chad Johnson was first off the ice at the morning skate and will make his 13th start of the season for Buffalo (8-9-2), who is currently on a three-game losing streak (0-1-2).

"[Johnson] has got a steady, calm demeanor about him," Bylsma said. "He's been in control. He's just been real solid for us and really given us a chance to win the last few times he's gone in the net."

Dallas (16-4-0) has the best record in the League and the Stars are on a four-game winning streak.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff is keeping his forward lines and most of his defensive pairs intact from a 3-2 win at the Washington Capitals on Thursday, with one minor exception.

Jordie Benn, a fixture in the third pair, usually alongside Jyrki Jokipakka, did not skate on Saturday because of illness and is unlikely to play. Jamie Oleksiak likely will replace him alongside Jokipakka.

"Well, I could make him [a game-time decision], but he's the one guy that's not doing very well, so I wouldn't anticipate him playing," Ruff said of Jordie Benn.

Goalie Antti Niemi was first off the ice for Dallas and will start his 12th game of the season.

Here are the projected lineups:


Matt MoulsonRyan O'ReillyBrian Gionta

Evander KaneJack EichelTyler Ennis

Marcus FolignoJohan LarssonSam Reinhart

Nicolas DeslauriersDavid LegwandJamie McGinn

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen

Zach Bogosian - Jake McCabe

Carlo ColaiacovoCody Franson

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark

Injured: Zemgus Girgensons (upper body), Robin Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clot), Mark Pysyk (lower body), Mike Weber (knee)

Scratched: Tim Schaller


Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinValeri Nichushkin

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Travis Moen

Injured: Jordie Benn (illness)

Status report: Jordie Benn was one of three players sent home from the team facility on Friday with an illness. Benn likely will miss his first game of the season.

Who's hot: O'Reilly has a three-game goal streak. … Franson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games, including an assist against Dallas on Nov. 17. … Goligoski has 15 points (nine assists) in 17 career games against Buffalo. … Spezza has 66 points (43 assists) in 56 career games against the Sabres.

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