SABRES (8-9-2) at STARS (16-4-0)
TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-SW
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.
"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, which has lost three straight games (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 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 Moulson – Ryan O'Reilly – Brian Gionta
Evander Kane – Jack Eichel – Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno – Johan Larsson – Sam Reinhart
Nicolas Deslauriers – David Legwand – Jamie McGinn
Josh Gorges – Rasmus Ristolainen
Zach Bogosian - Jake McCabe
Carlo Colaiacovo – Cody Franson
Injured: Zemgus Girgensons (upper body), Robin Lehner (ankle), Cody McCormick (blood clot), Mark Pysyk (lower body), Mike Weber (knee)
Scratched: Tim Schaller
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
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.