The first period looked was mostly an even strength and evenly matched affair. Both teams had plenty of scoring chances, and both goaltenders were solid, but it took a Buffalo penalty 17:15 into the first frame to break the stalemate. Yes, that’s right, the Stars scored a Power Play goal! Alex Goligoski took aim from the point, let loose the fury and Michael Ryder tipped it perfectly into the corner, giving him a team leading 20th goal, and the Stars an important 1-0 lead into the second period. These two teams showed they were going to be neck and neck early on, and it only continued into the middle frame. No goals were scored by either team despite a power play opportunity for both sides, and Kari Lehtonen made some heroic saves to keep the score 1-0 into the final period. The Stars weren’t content with a 1-0 lead, and Jamie Benn threw the puck into the slot where Tomas Vincour rocketed it past Miller 4:17 into the final frame, putting the Stars up 2-0. Unfortunately, Radek Dvorak took a penalty right after, and Thomas Vanek tipped a shot in to make the score 2-1. The final minutes of the period were a frenzy, with the Sabres launching an all-out assault on Kari Lehtonen, desperate to tie the game, and it paid off. The Stars lost a crucial face off and Derek Roy took advantage, forcing a rebound past Lehtonen to tie the game at 2-2 with 38 seconds left, sending the game into overtime. Lehtonen made yet another heroic save in the final seconds of OT to preserve the tie and send the game to the shoot out. It took a couple extra shooters, but Nathan Gerbe scored for the Sabres, and Michael Ryder couldn’t convert for the Stars, giving the Sabres a 3-2 shootout win.
What It Means:
Disappointment. A 1-0 lead. Then a 2-0 lead in the third period. Then a penalty, a lost face off, and just like that it’s 2-2. The Sabres earned themselves a win tonight and the full two points. The Stars lost it for themselves, plain and simple. Getting a valuable point is not enough cushion for the crushing loss that the fans and the team endured. The Stars did everything right, they played a sound game, but just a couple mistakes cost them. Kari Lehtonen was incredible, once again, he was everything he needed to be. He changed Gulutzan’s mind, and was given the start for the second night in a row. He wanted it, you could see that plain and simple with his performance, and the Stars wanted it too. It’s a loss that really hurts, but it’s not the end of the world. They picked up 3 out of 4 points in this back to back series, and that should be viewed as a success, but it’s not enough to take the sting off the loss tonight. Other game notes:
- Ryan Miller was 3-0 in his career against the Stars entering tonight, he improved to 4-0.
- On that note, the Sabres themselves still have not been beaten by the Stars in Buffalo since the Stars won the Stanley Cup in Buffalo all the way back in 1999.
- The Stars fall to 0-8-2 in the second night of a back to back.
- Tomas Vincour continues to impress playing on the top line, scoring his second goal of the season tonight after an assist last night.
The Stars continue the grind on Sunday evening, facing division rival Los Angeles Kings in a game that will be crucial for both teams. Los Angeles has drifted back into the pack of teams fighting for the final playoff spots and if Dallas can take two points from the Kings, especially with two games in hand, it will be a huge boost for the Stars’ playoff chances.
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