The first game back home after a long road trip proved to be no problem for the Dallas Stars Saturday night. The Stars struck early and often to take command of the game and went on to defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-1, at American Airlines Center.
The Stars scored four goals over a 9:42 span of the first period to build a 4-0 lead in the game and were never threatened by the Sabres.
[WATCH: All Stars-Sabres highlights]
"We put the foot down right away, got the lead," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "And then we were able to sit on it and manage the game as it went on, which is a really good sign."
Radek Faksa, Antoine Roussel, and Tyler Seguin all recorded one goal and one assist in the game. Remi Elie and Stephen Johns also scored goals, and John Klingberg chipped in three assists, and Gemel Smith had two assists.
Video: Hitchcock speaks following home win
The Stars, who have been relying on the top line of Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov for a lot of their offense, got some secondary scoring on this night. Elie and Roussel both scored their first goals of the season and Smith tallied his first points.
"Guys that have worked really hard that have been snake bitten all of the first part of this year and hadn't scored all of a sudden are feeling good about themselves and contributing," said Hitchcock. "It's not the same old five guys doing everything. We got a lot of contribution from a lot of different people, and the bench got really excited by that.
"That was a great sign."
Kari Lehtonen, making his third start of the season, stopped 27 of 28 shots. Lehtonen has now stopped 56 of 58 shots in his past two starts.
Video: BUF@DAL: Johns buries a wrister from the hashmarks
"I feel like I'm still a capable goalie and I think the guys who have been in this room know what I am all about," Lehtonen said. "When I get there they know what they are going to get. I'm sure that's something that comforts them, and I need to keep bringing my A-game and help pick up wins here and there."
The Stars won for the fifth straight time at home and improved to 7-3-0 in their last ten games overall. They are 8-6-0 on the season.
Ryan O'Reilly scored the lone goal for the Sabres who fell to 4-8-2 on the season.
"I thought we started the game with a great jump," O'Reilly said. "You could see as we were moving right away that we were physical. A couple of bad bounces. They happen. We still can make better plays in certain situations, but the bad bounces took the wind out of our sails and it was tough."
Video: BUF@DAL: Seguin blasts one-timer past Johnson for PPG
The Stars struck 3:09 into the game when Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner fumbled a Roussel shot and Elie put in the rebound to make it a 1-0 game.
A little more than four minutes later, Smith slipped a check along the right boards, put the puck on net and Faksa scored on the rebound and the Stars were ahead 2-0 at the 7:07 mark.
Smith set up Johns, who scored from the right circle on the rush to make it a 3-0 game at 10:27 of the first. That ended the night for Lehner who allowed three goals on seven shots. He was replaced by Chad Johnson.
"This is the sport I chose," Lehner said about being pulled. "I am pretty fortunate. At the end of the day, I am a goalie in the National Hockey League. This has happened to a lot of goalies. You just have to throw this out and move onto the next game."
Video: Lehtonen stands tall for Stars
The Stars struck on the power play 2:24 later when Klingberg set up Seguin, who scored off a one-timer from the left circle to give the Stars a 4-0 lead 12:51 into the game.
"It was very big," Klingberg said of the four-goal first period. "We responded the way we needed to. We had a meeting yesterday about how things need to be better. We cleaned a lot of that up today. We held onto pucks, got into more battles, so that was a huge win for us. It was probably the best 60-minutes we have played this season. It was a great game for us."
Buffalo cut the lead to 4-1 at 11:51 of the second period when O'Reilly won an offensive draw and then put a shot through Lehtonen.
The Sabres had some good chances to cut the lead to two on a power play a short time later, but Lehtonen made a couple of sharp saves, and a good look by Jack Eichel rang off the post.
Video: Stars vanquish Sabres
The Stars made it 5-1 late in the second. After an extended shift in the Buffalo zone, Roussel redirected a Klingberg pass into the net at the 18:50 mark.
There was no scoring in the third and not many opportunities for the Sabres to get anything going. Hitchcock, who had some concerns about the team's energy coming into the game, saw a strong start and solid finish in the game.
"The guys had a great attitude going into today. Our first period and our third period were excellent," said Hitchcock. "I look at it from the standpoint that they really sucked it up and played a heck of a hockey game.
"They played tremendous in the first period and did a great job of managing the game in the third period."
Video: BUF@DAL: Elie puts the rebound through Lehner's legs
Faksa, Pitlick injured
The Stars lost two more forwards in Saturday's game. Radek Faksa left the game with just under seven minutes left in the second period with a lower-body injury after Islanders forward Kyle Okposo fell on his right leg during a scrum near the Dallas net. He is listed as day to day for now, and an update is expected Sunday.
Pitlick left the game with just under five minutes left in the third with an undisclosed injury. He is listed as day to day. There should be an update on him Sunday as well.
The Stars are already missing center Martin Hanzal and right wing Brett Ritchie. Hanzal, who has now missed three games with a lower-body injury, is expected to practice Sunday but won't play Monday against Winnipeg. Ritchie has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury and is expected to be out five to seven days.
Video: BUF@DAL: Faksa slams home rebound to double the lead
The Stars have outscored their opposition 19-8 during their five-game winning streak at home.
The Sabres outshot the Stars 28-22 and had a 55-52 advantage in shot attempts.
Stephen Johns led the Stars with four shots on goal. Johns and Tyler Seguin co-led Dallas with eight shot attempts.
The Stars were 1-1 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill.
The Stars won 23 of 51 faceoffs (45 percent). Seguin won 7 of 14 (50 percent). Jamie Benn won five of ten (50 percent). Jason Spezza won four of five (80 percent). Mattias Janmark won 0 of 6.
Stars forward Alexander Radulov picked up an assist Saturday to extend his points streak to five games (four goals, four assists).
Stars defenseman John Klingberg matched a career-high by recording three assists in Saturday's game.
Esa Lindell led the Stars with 21:36 of ice time. Stephen Johns was next with 21:08.
Video: Smith shines in Stars victory
The Stars practice in Frisco on Sunday and then take on the Winnipeg Jets on Monday at American Airlines Center. This will be the second meeting between the Stars and Jets in five days. The Jets defeated the Stars, 5-2, in Winnipeg on Thursday.
Video: BUF@DAL: Churla drops the ceremonial first puck
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Remi Elie
Jason Dickinson - Mattias Janmark - Devin Shore
Gemel Smith - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Esa Lindell - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Martin Hanzal (lower body), Brett Ritchie (upper body)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.