It wasn't pretty, but it was a pretty solid effort, and it was two points.
The Dallas Stars came out of their 10-day break with a 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at American Airlines Center on Wednesday night. Ben Bishop stopped 30 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Jamie Benn scored the lone goal of the game for the Stars, who improved to 25-21-4 (54 points) and pulled to within one point of Minnesota for third place in the Central Division.
Here are five things from Wednesday's game.
1. Strong start fuels win
Stars coach Jim Montgomery thought his team could be a little rusty to start Wednesday's game due to the long break. Well, that wasn't the case. The Stars came out with a strong push early and got the game's only goal at 8:39 of the first.
Taylor Fedun picked off a Zach Bogosian pass at the Buffalo blue line and set up Benn, who beat Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark five-hole from close range. The Stars rolled out a strong second period, outshooting the Sabres 11-6 but couldn't extend the lead. Bishop came up huge in the third, stopping 14 shots as Buffalo made a strong push to try to tie the game.
"I thought we came out in the first period with a great effort. Obviously we get that goal, which is huge," said Bishop. "The other two periods after that we couldn't get one, but we did a lot of good things. The [defense] did a good job in front of me, blocking shots at the end of the game. We'll take it."
Buffalo did get a puck past Bishop at 4:28 of the third, but the goal was immediately waved off because Buffalo's Nathan Beaulieu interfered with Bishop before the puck crossed the goal line. The Sabres challenged the ruling and lost.
"He skated through the crease, and it took my left leg out," Bishop said.
Beaulieu saw it this way: "I was just driving the net. On replay it felt like I was pushed in, but it can go either way, it's tough to say. Like I said, it's not going to get overturned now, so I'm not going to get worried about it."
Bishop made three quick saves with just under five minutes left, stopping a shot by Marco Scandella and then two bids off the stick of Jeff Skinner, who ranks second in the league in goal scoring.
Video: BUF@DAL: Bishop shuts down multiple Sabres in front
2. Benn in beast mode
The captain scored the game's only goal, but there was a lot more to his game Wednesday night. Benn led the Stars in shots on goal (six), hits (four), and high-danger scoring chances (three). Benn seems to have found a spark playing on a line with Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau.
"His last game against Winnipeg was really good, and tonight he was really good again," Montgomery said. "He was physical. He looked like a beast out there tonight and with Faksa and Comeau that is a hard line to play against."
Benn threw a big hit on Sabres star Jack Eichel in the third, leading to Jeff Skinner confronting Benn and the two exchanging words and the jawing continued as the two made it to their respective benches. Benn and Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark were chatting quite a bit during the game as well.
"He just runs his mouth all the time. I asked him if he would stop talking anytime soon," Ullmark said. "He's a terrific player. His goal was a nifty move, and he puts it five-hole. It's one of those fun things to embrace when you play."
Video: BUF@DAL: Benn tucks home Fedun's dish to open scoring
3. 'Big Rig' makes formal return
Jamie Oleksiak played his first game since being acquired from Pittsburgh earlier this week. Oleksiak skated on the third defense pair with Taylor Fedun, logged 13:03 of ice time, had two shots on goal, two hits, two blocked shots and one takeaway.
"I loved him, I thought he played a real good game," said Montgomery. "His size, his speed, he was physical. He moved pucks efficiently, and I thought he made us a lot better."
Oleksiak played six seasons in Dallas before being traded to Pittsburgh last season. The Stars re-acquired him Monday.
Video: Oleksiak awarded cowboy hat in return to Stars
4. Heiskanen vs. Dahlin
Wednesday's game featured two of the game's top young defensemen -- Dallas' Miro Heiskanen and Buffalo's Rasmus Dahlin.
Dahlin leads all rookie defensemen in scoring with 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) and Heiskanen is second with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists). Vancouver's Elias Pettersson is considered the favorite for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL's top rookie, but Dahlin and Heiskanen are strong candidates to be finalists.
Heiskanen led the Stars with 24:13 of ice time Wednesday night, had one shot on goal, two shot attempts, one blocked shot and two giveaways. Dahlin led Buffalo with 22:53 of ice time, had one shot on goal, two shot attempts, one blocked shot and four giveaways. The Stars targeted Dahlin with some hard hits Wednesday, starting early in the game.
Video: Montgomery discusses solid game for Stars in win
5. Dickinson leaves game with lower-body injury
Stars forward Jason Dickinson left Wednesday's game in the third period with a lower-body injury. Montgomery did not have much of an update after the game.
"He tweaked something, and right now we think it's minor," Montgomery said. "We'll see if he's sore tomorrow."
Bishop has an 11-game winning streak against Buffalo. ... The Stars have won seven straight games against the Sabres at American Airlines Center. ... The Stars scored two goals or fewer for the 29th time in 50 games this season and won for just the eighth time when scoring two or fewer (8-18-3). ... The Sabres outshot the Stars 30-27 and had a 65-48 advantage in shot attempts. ... The Stars had an 11-5 edge in high-danger scoring chances according to naturalstattrick.com. ... The Stars were 0-for-1 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill. ... The Stars won 22 of 51 faceoffs (43 percent). Tyler Seguin won 6 of 11 faceoffs (55 percent). ... The Stars blocked 19 shots in the game. John Klingberg was tops with three blocks.
Here is the lineup the Stars used to start Wednesday's game along with the scratches and injuries.
Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Jason Spezza
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Scratched: Connor Carrick, Julius Honka, Valeri Nichushkin
Injured: Tyler Pitlick (upper body), Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee surgery)
Video: Benn, Bishop propel Stars in shutout win over Sabres
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.