Stars (27-15-4) vs. Sabres (21-19-7)
7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center
TV: FOX Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM
DALLAS -- This is a weird one.
With the Winter Classic and the four-game road trip, and the bye week coming up, this will be one of only two games at American Airlines Center in a span of 29 days. That's astounding.
As such, the Stars would really like to win this one. Combine the fact the Stars laid an egg in Buffalo Oct. 14, losing a 4-0 contest, and you have plenty of reasons to be ready for the rematch.
"They beat us 4-0 and we're well aware of that," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "We didn't play very well, and we've noticed that they have won their past couple of games. They're playing hard. They know where they are in the standings and you give them a lot of credit. They're going to come at us tonight."
Buffalo has won two straight and is 4-2-0 in its past six games. Dallas is 7-1-0 in its past eight and leads the NHL in goals against average (2.33) and save percentage (.927). It should be a solid match between two teams that are playing well.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said he doesn't expect much to be the same from the October game when the Stars were in the middle of a 1-7-1 slump.
"It's a whole different ballgame than three months ago when we played them," Krueger said. "They're second in the Western Conference and on a very high pace. We're going to be tested and we need to play our best game tonight here, for sure."
Bringing the power
Both teams are smoking hot on the power play right now.
Buffalo is 6-for-14 in their past five games, including scoring two power-play goals Tuesday in a 4-2 win over the Golden Knights. Dallas is 8-for-17 in the past six games, scoring one power-play goal Tuesday at Colorado and having another disallowed because of an offside challenge.
Jack Eichel is the leader of the Sabres' attack with 19 power-play points (six goals, 13 assists). He ranks seventh overall in NHL scoring with 61 points. The Stars have been spread out in the man-advantage scoring. John Klingberg leads the way with 11 points (one goal, 10 assists), while Tyler Seguin has 10 points (one goal, nine assists).
Esa Lindell has come on strong lately and has seven points on the power play (one goal, six assists). Overall, Lindell has nine points (one goal, eight assists) in his past seven games.
Stars have tough decisions to make with lineup
This is one of those games where it will pay off to show up for warm-up.
Radek Faksa is out again for Dallas with an upper-body injury, but Mattias Janmark missed morning skate because of illness. He is expected to skate in warmup and then be a game-time decision. If he plays, the Stars have some tough choices to make on who comes out.
As it is, Corey Perry is returning from a five-game suspension due to an elbowing penalty in the Winter Classic. He is slated to play right wing on the fourth line with Justin Dowling and Denis Gurianov. If Janmark can play, could he jump in on that fourth line, or would coaches juggle a lineup that's already been juggled? It will be interesting to watch.
Roope Hintz has been moved from center to left wing on the second line, so that also bears watching, especially if Janmark can play.
The defense should stay the same from last game, while Ben Bishop is also expected to be back in goal.
Rick Bowness said he wanted to play Anton Khudobin, but that he is battling illness. Khudobin will serve as the backup tonight. Bishop is 16-9-3 on the year with a 2.23 GAA and .930 save percentage. In his career against the Sabres, Bishop is 12-2-2 with a 1.55 GAA and .943 save percentage.
By the numbers
The Stars have outscored the opposition 17-1 after the first intermission in the past seven games. Dallas leads the NHL in games won when trailing after two periods at eight.
In 17 career games against the Sabres, Stars winger Corey Perry has 17 points (13 goals, four assists)
Buffalo is last in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage at 45.5 percent. Dallas ranks fifth at 54.1 percent.
He said it
"He's a veteran, he knows how to play. He'll keep it simple early until he gets his rhythm back. He missed five games, that's a significant amount of time. You can practice all you want and you can work out all you want, but until you get back into the heat of the action and the flow of the game…he's just going to have to keep it very simple until he gets a good feeling for it."
-- Bowness on Perry's return from a five-game suspension
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski - Joel Kiviranta
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau
Denis Gurianov - Justin Dowling - Corey Perry
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera - Roman Polak
Scratched: D Taylor Fedun
Injured: LW Mattias Janmark (illness; game-time decision), C Radek Faksa (upper body), D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), C Martin Hanzal (back)
Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Buffalo Sabres when they return home to American Airlines Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.