Division champions last season, the Buffalo Sabres are
approaching the end of October mired in the Northeast cellar.
Playing a slumping opponent that hasn’t defeated them in more
than seven years may help them get back on track.
Buffalo seeks to salvage a split of a four-game road trip
Saturday night when it faces off against a Dallas Stars team trying
to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.
Seeking an encore for a 100-point season in 2009-10, the Sabres
(3-6-2) have dropped eight of 10 since winning their opener. They
rallied to salvage a point in Atlanta on Friday when Derek Roy
scored a game-tying goal with eight seconds left in regulation, but
lost 4-3 after Dustin Byfuglien split two defenders and beat Ryan
Miller with a wrist shot at 4:31 of overtime.
With seven points – two fewer than Ottawa – the Sabres are last
in the Northeast.
Buffalo has given up five power-play goals in 12 opportunities
while losing its last two games. The Thrashers went 2 for 7 on
Friday, including a goal by Niclas Bergfors with a two-man
“When you have a 5-on-3, you can expect that,” said Miller, who
didn’t give up four or more goals in consecutive games all of last
season but has done so twice already in 2010-11.
Buffalo has defeated the Stars (5-4-0) five straight times, two
of those wins coming in Dallas, since a 3-0 loss March 31, 2003.
The last meeting was a 5-3 home win for the Sabres on March 10,
when defenseman Tyler Myers had a career-high four points (one
goal, three assists).
After averaging four goals during their 5-1-0 start, Dallas has
totaled four while dropping the first three contests of its
season-high six-game homestand. Brad Richards scored on the power
play and Brandon Segal added a goal Thursday night, but that wasn’t
nearly enough offense as the Stars fell 5-2 to Los Angeles.
Coach Marc Crawford was frustrated enough that he lifted Kari
Lehtonen – who allowed four goals on 15 shots – for backup Andrew
Raycroft early in the third period.
“What I don’t like is we beat ourselves,” Crawford said. “You
can’t take a shift off in this league. If we think we can outskill
teams, we’re sadly mistaken.”
Lehtonen had played every minute in net this season until
Raycroft replaced him for the final 15 on Thursday. Neither goalie
has had great success against Buffalo. Raycroft is 7-9-2 with a
3.04 goals-against average, while Lehtonen is 6-4-1 but with a 3.22
GAA – all while with Atlanta.
Miller is 3-0-0 with a 2.60 GAA versus Dallas.
The Stars are trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first
time since a seven-game skid March 17-30, 2009.