BUFFALO, N.Y. — Every time it looks like the Buffalo Sabres have things sorted out, they seem to take a step backward.
After picking up two of their best wins of the season to kick off the new year, the Sabres had poor road showings in losses to Tampa Bay (4-2, Thursday) and Carolina (5-2, Friday). Buffalo (16-17-9) will look to bounce back in a Monday afternoon game against the Dallas Stars.
“I think controlling momentum is the biggest thing,” Sabres goalie Robin Lehner told the team’s website. “If we score a goal maybe we need to play a little simple, not take any risks for a little bit to kind of calm the game down. It’s the same when we get scored on maybe we just chip it in a little bit, three or four shifts and just play real simple. … It feels like when we score goals we score in bunches when they start scoring on us, we’re scrambling.
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“It’s not an easy answer, but consistency is the answer. Consistently doing the small things, consistently doing the simple plays, because that opens things up.”
Lehner is expected to return after missing time with the flu. He missed Buffalo’s previous three games and last played in the team’s win over Winnipeg.
The Sabres may also have Tyler Ennis back in the lineup. The speedy forward hasn’t played since Nov. 7 after undergoing groin surgery.
“I think he’s going to be in a process of working back to full strength over the next three or four weeks,” Buffalo head coach Dan Bylsma said of Ennis, according to the team’s website. “He’s still gonna be working to that level and that’s a big part of his game. His skating, his agility, his acceleration is a big part of what he is as a player and we just hope he can get back in there and work to being that over the next two weeks or so.”
Ennis has struggled with injuries in recent years. His last full season without any major injuries came in 2014-15, when he had 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists). He had 34 points (21 goals, 22 assists) in 2013-14.
The Stars (18-18-8) are kicking off a three-game road trip and looking to change their fortunes on the road. Dallas is 6-11-4 away from home this year and has lost nine of its past 12 road games.
“Every game is important for us now, but on the road, where we’ve struggled, this is going to be huge for us,” said defenseman John Klingberg, according to the team’s website.
The Stars have struggled with inconsistency as of late. Dallas has two wins in its last seven games (2-4-1) and hasn’t picked up back-to-back wins since a three-game win streak in late December.
“We have got to establish some type of road game,” said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, according to the team’s website. “When you give (points) away at home, you have to get them back on the road, and our road record hasn’t been good enough. The only way to get this thing going on a consistent basis is to be a winner on the road.”