John Klingberg
Stars-Sabres Preview
John Klingberg

Stars-Sabres Preview

Published Nov. 17, 2015 1:41 p.m. ET

John Klingberg is the NHL's highest-scoring defenseman and playing a vital role in the Dallas Stars' climb to the top of the Western Conference.

Coming off a pair of multipoint efforts, Klingberg tries to help the visiting Stars continue their success against the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Klingberg's 20 points are half his total as a rookie last season and put him in the lead among defensemen. He's ahead of Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban of Montreal - with three Norris Trophies between them - by two and three points, respectively.

The Stars (14-4-0) have never had a Norris winner, but Klingberg might be able to change that. He's collected 19 of his points in victories, including two goals and three assists in the last two games.


He had a season-high three points after scoring in overtime of Saturday's 3-2 win over Minnesota.

One of Klingberg's assists set up a power-play tally by Jamie Benn, giving him 10 points on the man advantage to tie Boston's Patrice Bergeron for the league lead.

"I'm happy about it. I'm a player that should put up those points," Klingberg told the team's official website. "I get to play those minutes on the power play, and there are lots of scoring opportunities."

Dallas is 8-3-0 against the East, winning seven of eight matchups on the road.

Benn is second in the league with 12 goals and third with 25 points, and he's scored eight of those goals against Eastern clubs. The left wing has four goals and five assists in seven career matchups with the Sabres.

The Stars, though, are 1-6-1 with a tie in their last nine visits to Buffalo (8-8-1).

The Sabres are 5-1-1 after opening the season with losses in seven of their first 10 games. They picked up another point Saturday, falling 2-1 in overtime to San Jose as their three-game winning streak ended.

Like Dallas, Buffalo is getting an unexpected increase in production from a defenseman. Rasmus Ristolainen has 11 points after totaling 20 all of last season. He's accumulated three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak after setting up Ryan O'Reilly's third-period tally Saturday.

"I think I've been doing a better job than last year defensively and offensively," Ristolainen told the team's official website. "I think I can still be better and better and I try to be better and better.

"I try to help the team offensively, lately I have some points. But I don't think that way; I try to take care first in the defensive zone and then try to get something started on offense too."

Buffalo has some help coming on defense as Zach Bogosian is set to return from a lower-body injury that's kept him out all season.

The Sabres could be without center Zemgus Girgensons, who is reportedly still feeling the effects of a hit against the Sharks. However, Bylsma claims it's not concussion related.

Jack Eichel has no points in his last two games, but he remains the team's leaders with six goals. The rookie has five goals and two assists in 10 home games compared to two points in seven on the road.


John Klingberg
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