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Preview: Stars at Sabres

Robin Lehner, Tyler Ennis may return for Buffalo; Dallas looking for consistent effort

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

STARS (18-18-8) at SABRES (16-17-9)

1 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-SW, NHL.TV

Stars team scope

The Dallas Stars head into their game against the Buffalo Sabres 2-4-1 in the past seven games and are coming off a 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. The Stars came back from being down 4-0 to tie the game before losing. "That could've easily been one of those games you saw around the league that's 10-1 last night," coach Lindy Ruff said. "But you've got to give these guys some credit, they hunkered down, they battled hard to get back in the game and it seems to be the theme for the whole year. We're battling hard; we'll lose a game or we lose a couple and battle hard to get to .500, a game above .500, two games above .500. I think because of how close it really is, we haven't put a string together. Most teams that have got by the hurdle put a string of games together and we haven't been able to do that yet." Antti Niemi gave up three goals on the first three shots he faced before he was pulled for Kari Lehtonen, who may start against the Sabres. The Stars have scored 22 goals in the past seven games, but have been shut out once and had one goal in a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Dec. 31. "I'd say some of our recent woes have been the scoring," Ruff said. "I thought we had a ton of opportunities to finish off St. Louis in St. Louis, even in the third period. I look at the Anaheim game, we didn't score. It was a 1-0 game, we didn't score. So for me I look at our road scoring first and then our special teams battle when we hit the road."

Sabres team scope

The Sabres may have goalie Robin Lehner and forward Tyler Ennis back. Ennis has missed the past 30 games after he had groin surgery Nov. 10. "I've just got to be a confident player," Ennis said. "I think I'm at my best when I have the puck and I'm making plays and I'm confident in myself. I might have to do certain things, but I can make a mistake or two when I'm doing that but I'm also making more good plays and being creative and being confident with the puck and doing what I can do with my skill set." Ennis practiced on a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo on Sunday. "We've seen Tyler play a little bit with Jack [Eichel] and a little bit with Ryan, so we think the combination of Ryan and Kyle together and Tyler being alongside them using his speed, his ability, his playmaking ability could be a nice fit," coach Dan Bylsma said. "If he plays [Monday], he will see time there." Lehner missed the past three games with an illness but skated in Buffalo on Saturday. He practiced again with the rest of the team on Sunday and is likely to start against the Stars. Buffalo lost twice on its two-game road trip after winning its previous two at home. "Right now we're forcing a little bit and then we open up and now we're chasing and that's been the picture," Lehner said. "Not in all the games. We have a couple really good games and then we get away from it. Taking a step forward and two steps back, we've got to find an answer."


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel -- Cody Eakin -- Jason Spezza

Lauri Korpikoski -- Radek Faksa -- Patrick Sharp

Jiri Hudler -- Devin Shore -- Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya -- Stephen Johns

Dan Hamhuis -- Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand)


Sabres projected lineup

Tyler Ennis -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson -- Nicolas Deslauriers -- William Carrier

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Zach Bogosian -- Cody Franson

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: None

Injured: Johan Larsson (wrist), Josh Gorges (hip), Dmitry Kulikov (lower back)


Status report

Ruff said Eaves and Eakin did not skate on Sunday for maintenance reasons. … Bylsma said Kulikov is skating on his own and is hopefully progressing from his injury. Gorges is still off the ice and will see a doctor soon about his injury.


Who's hot

Klingberg has four goals and four assists in the past six games. Seguin has two goals and two assists in the past four games. … O'Reilly has a goal and six assists in the past five games. Reinhart has three goals and nine assists in the past 12 games.

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