The Dallas Stars are in Buffalo to kick off a two-game road trip. Antti Niemi is the expected starter in goal tonight vs. the Sabres. This will be Niemi’s tenth start of the season, but just his second in the past 15 days.
The Stars will get forward Patrick Eaves back tonight. Eaves has missed the past 15 games with a lower-body injury. He is expected to skate on a line with Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark.
“I like Patrick’s game. He’s a shooter, so he should fit well with Spezz,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He plays a two-way game. He plays the game the right way. He knows where to be. We’re going to use him a little bit on special teams, and he is chomping at the bit to get back in here.”
Cody Eakin, who had been on the line with Spezza and Janmark, is expected to center Antoine Roussel and Valeri Nichushkin in tonight’s game.
On defense, it appears that Jyrki Jokipakka will return tonight. Jokipakka sat out the past two games while resting a lower-body issue.
The Stars come into tonight’s game on a roll. They’ve won five of their past six games and eight of their past ten. They are 14-4-0 on the season, and their 28 points are tops in the Western Conference and third in the NHL. All that adds up to extra attention from opponents.
“I think it is good for a team,” said Spezza. “It’s a challenge. It forces you to bring your best game every night. And it creates good habits because if you let your guard down you lose. It’s created good habits, pushed us to become a better team.”
Linus Ullmark will get the start in goal for the Sabres. The 22-year-old Swede is 4-2-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. He’s won his past two starts, stopping 71 of 75 shots against Vancouver and Florida. Defenseman Zach Bogosian returns for Buffalo tonight. He’s missed the first 17 games of the season with a lower-body injury. Buffalo will be without forward Zemgus Girgensons, who suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s overtime loss to San Jose.
Who: Dallas Stars at Buffalo Sabres
Where: First Niagara Center
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
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 – Jordie Benn
Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak
Conditioning: Patrik Nemeth
Matt Moulson – Ryan O'Reilly – Brian Gionta
Johan Larsson – Jack Eichel – Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno – Tim Schaller – Sam Reinhart
Nicolas Deslauriers – David Legwand – Jamie McGinn
Josh Gorges – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe – Zach Bogosian
Mark Pysyk – Cody Franson
Injured: Zemgus Girgensons (upper body), Evander Kane (knee), Cody McCormick (blood clot), Robin Lehner (lower body)
Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo
This story was not subject to the 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.