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Stars-Sabres Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Buffalo Sabres at Dallas Stars

Tuesday, March 3
7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (28-22-10) are coming off a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Stars outshot the Lightning 41-21 in the game, but they fell behind 3-0 and the deficit was too big to overcome.

“The thing I liked is we hunkered down and went to work. We fought our way back,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Even at 3-2, we had two or three opportunities to tie it up and missed those opportunities.”

Monday’s game kicks off a stretch of 15 games in 27 days for the Stars, including four sets of back-to-back games.

“Obviously with the Olympics, everything’s cramped in the schedule. We have to take care of ourselves and guys have to be mentally sharp because you’re not always going to have the most energy,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “So we’ve got to be mentally prepared every game, right out of the gates. And it’s going to be a tough stretch, but we’ve got a great dressing room in there and a lot of guys that will put in the work.”

Although Buffalo currently ranks 30th in the league with 44 points, the Stars are not taking the Sabres lightly.

“They are a team that hasn’t lost a game since the break,” Fiddler said. “They are playing carefree. They have a lot of young guys with a lot to prove. They have great coaching. We’ve got to be ready for them.”

Monday’s game will conclude the Stars’ three-game homestand.

Injuries: D Brenden Dillon (lower body) is questionable. D Stephane Robidas (leg) is out.

About the Sabres

The Sabres (18-34-8) improved to 3-0-0 since the Olympic break with a 4-2 win over San Jose in Buffalo on Friday. Just prior to the game, the Sabres traded goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to St. Louis.

"It was tough. Give the guys a lot of credit, they found a way. They battled," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

On Saturday, there was more upheaval for the Sabres as president of hockey operations Pat Lafontaine abruptly resigned.

“I think we’re all numb right now so right now, we’re just going to try to get this team focused on the Dallas Stars and that’s our next opponent,” Nolan said. “We’ve got two new players in here and they come into this situation.”

The Sabres acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart from St. Louis in the Miller-Ott deal. Both practiced with the team Sunday, but there is a belief that the Sabres could flip one or both players before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

“I don’t know what to think. You hear about all the rumors,” Stewart told Buffalo media. “As long as I’m here, I’m going to focus 100 percent of my energy on winning hockey games for the Buffalo Sabres.”

Monday’s game kicks off a three-game road trip for Buffalo.

Injuries: C Tyler Ennis (body soreness) is questionable. C Kevin Porter (lower body) is out.

Series Notes

*This is the second of two meetings between the Stars and Sabres.

*The Stars won the season’s first meeting, defeating the Sabres, 4-3, in Buffalo on Oct. 28.

*The Sabres last played in Dallas on Oct. 30, 2010, falling to the Stars, 4-0.

Statistical tidbits

*Buffalo, which as defeated Carolina, Boston and San Jose since the break, has won three straight games for the first time this season.

*The Sabres, who rank last in the league in scoring at 1.93 goals per game, have scored 12 in the three games since the break.

*The Stars have outshot their opponents in 11 of the last 13 games, averaging 32.2 shots per game while allowing 23.6.

*The Sabres rank 29th in shots per game (26.6) and 29th in shots against per game (34.3).

*The Sabres have scored on the power play in seven of their last nine games and are 7-33 (21.2 percent) during that stretch.

*The Stars are 1-26 (3.9 percent) on the power play over their last seven games.

*The Stars are 18-19 (94.7 percent) on the penalty kill over the last six games.

*The Stars are 9-11-2 vs. the Eastern Conference.

*The Sabres are 6-13-1 vs. the Western Conference, including a 1-8-0 mark against the Central Division.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has registered points in eight of the last 11 games and has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) during that stretch.

*Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has nine points (three goals, six assists) over his last nine games.

*Tyler Seguin leads the Stars in goals (25) and points (57).

*Cody Hodgson leads the Sabres in goals (15) and points (32).

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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