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Coach's challenge helps Stars hold off Sabres

by Joe Yerdon /

BUFFALO -- The Dallas Stars continued their winning ways and used the NHL's challenge system to do it.

The Stars defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 at First Niagara Center on Tuesday for their seventh win in eight games.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game 2-2 with 6:15 left when Sam Reinhart put a wrist shot past goalie Antti Niemi, but Stars coach Lindy Ruff challenged that the play was offside.

"People were yelling 'Offside!' right away on the entry, and then the mechanics, our assistant coach is right in our video guy Kelly Forbes' ear, and Kelly came back to him and said it's offside," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "So instantly, probably within five seconds, Kelly had it nailed."

Video review confirmed that Sabres forward Tyler Ennis crossed the blue line ahead of the puck and the goal was disallowed.

"My opinion hasn't changed in (five) days," Ennis said. "It's in place. Offside has been around a long time, so I've got to get to know that rule a little better."

The Sabres were on a power play at the time because of a delay of game penalty to Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.

"I knew it was offside before the puck went in," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I didn't know 100 percent, but I had a pretty good idea that it was offside before it went in. I didn't really need to wait to hear about the call. It's certainly disappointing."

The Stars killed the penalty and the Sabres didn't get another good chance to score.

"It's mentally tough. It's new," Niemi said about the review. "You feel kind of lucky after that, even if it was a fair call, but it felt like a second chance.

"It's got to be really tough for them because they get pumped they are tying the game … I think it [the review] is easier from my side than for them."

The Sabres got within 2-1 when forward Ryan O'Reilly scored a power-play goal with 6:57 left in the third. He received a pass from Cody Franson and took a slap shot that beat Niemi through the five-hole for his sixth goal of the season. Niemi was screened by Reinhart.

"We wanted to get more shots on the power play there," O'Reilly said. "Just tried to go a little bit high."

The Sabres were on the power play because of a cross-checking call against Stars captain Jamie Benn.

"Just a stupid penalty at a really important time in the game," Benn said. "Just a bad hockey penalty, and I can't be putting my team in that situation that late in the game."

Jason Spezza gave the Stars a 2-0 lead 7:35 into the third period with his seventh goal of the season. Spezza tipped a shot from Goligoski past Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark to the glove side.

"Spezza and Janmark made a couple great little plays through their defense to let someone else get in the play," Goligoski said. "[Janmark] made a great pass and it was a nice goal."

Goligoski was open in the slot after Sabres forward Tim Schaller, who played in place of injured forward Zemgus Girgensons, missed a check against Spezza at the blue line. Spezza passed to Janmark and drove to the front of the net. Janmark then found Goligoski alone in the slot.

"I thought it was one of his best games," Ruff said of Spezza. "I thought he skated well. That line was real good. I thought, again, they were in 3-4 opportunities and did a real nice job."

Tyler Seguin scored an empty-net goal with 1:27 left, his 10th goal of the season.

The Stars (15-4-0) have won six of the past seven games and have the best record in the Western Conference. The Sabres (8-9-1) have lost two in a row.

The Stars attempted 60 shots to the Sabres' 52. Dallas came in averaging 3.6 goals per game.

"We need to be comfortable in those situations where we can't get frustrated that there's nothing going on," Benn said. "Be happy with a one-goal lead, and be satisfied with a boring two points we get in the end."

Valeri Nichushkin gave the Stars a 1-0 lead 51 seconds into the game. His second goal of the season came when he deked and put a backhand past Ullmark.

"He's really been working hard," Ruff said. "I'm happy for him because it was a struggle the first 2-3 weeks and he was a pretty frustrated young man. Now he's got a smile on his face and he's been working real hard."

Niemi made 24 saves; Ullmark made 26.

Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian played 21:03 in his first game of the season. He missed most of training camp and the regular season with a lower-body injury.

"We know we'd see a good-skating defenseman and a big body back there," Bylsma said. "He was a factor all over the ice."

Stars forward Patrick Eaves played 12:22 in his first game since Oct. 13. He missed 13 with a lower-body injury.

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