DALLAS (AP) – Michael Raffl scored twice to end a 16-game scoreless streak and Jake Oettinger made 38 saves as the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabers 4-2 on Sunday, Feb. 27.
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Raffl scored the first goal of the game midway through the first period, his first since Jan. 6, and added his sixth of the season late in the second period. It was the 33-year-old’s third multi-goal game in 560 NHL appearances.
“Scoring goals is always nice,” Raffl said. “I think it’s nicer to win.”
Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov also scored for the Stars, who have scored in seven of their last nine games (6-2-1). Dallas and Edmonton have 61 points apiece and are tied for second wildcard in the Western Conference.
“We haven’t done anything yet, but I’d rather see us in eighth place than ninth or tenth place,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said.
Cody Eakin snapped a 33-game scoreless streak and Tage Thompson also scored for the Sabres, who are 0-6-0 in their last six games and heading into their 11th consecutive season without qualifying for the playoffs. Craig Anderson, 40, stopped 27 shots.
“It’s an absolute challenge to fight the frustration,” Sabers coach Don Granato said. “I can’t tell you I’m not frustrated, but I can’t act frustrated. Big difference.”
Raffl, who signed as a free agent last July, deflected a Radek Faksa shot just beyond the right circle for the game’s first goal at 15:43 of the first period. He scored at 16:16 of the second period for a 3-1 lead on a second-effort shot in the slot after Anderson initially stopped a Tyler Seguin shot.
Hintz gave Dallas a 2-0 lead at 6:34 of the start of the second period, beating Anderson between the pads alone on the doorstep for his team-high 23rd goal. Joe Pavleski assisted with a pass from the corner boards.
Gurianov deflected a shot from Esa Lindell 8:56 into the third period with 5 seconds left on the power play.
Thompson scored on a wrist from the right circle at 8:23 of the second period to bring the Sabers to 2-1, his eighth goal in the last eight games.
Eakin, who played five seasons with Dallas before heading to Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft, connected on a 17-foot wrist 2:02 into the third period. It was Eakin’s fourth goal of the season and first since Nov. 26.
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While Raffl has been cut from previous Dallas games, his teammates hid his helmet. This forced him to come out bareheaded for warm-ups. The last time he did that he suffered a concussion during the game.
“Since then, I’ve put my bucket back on,” Raffl said. “Today I had to do it; I showed no weakness. It was a bit of a scary moment, me walking there.
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The Sabers were outshot 9-0 in the first 9 1/2 minutes of the game and 18-6 in the first period. They outshot the Stars 24-5 in the third period to finish ahead 40-31 in shots.
“It took us a while to figure out how to play,” Granato said.
THE SOFTNESS OF HOME
Oettinger is 14-3-0 at home this season and 21-4-5 in two NHL seasons. He made his sixth straight start and 10th in Dallas’ last 11 games.
“He’s really athletic,” said Thompson, who played with Oettinger on the U.S. junior teams. “He crosses the net very quickly.”
Sabers defenseman Rasmus Dahlin collapsed behind the Buffalo net midway through the first period after being hit by Seguin’s stick between the legs. Dahlin was helped to the bench but didn’t miss a shift. … Pavelski has 20 points in his last 18 games and 898 career points. … Dallas rookie defenseman Thomas Harley got the secondary pass on Hintz’s goal for his first career NHL point. … Buffalo defenseman Henri Jokiharju missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Sabers: In Toronto on Wednesday to complete a five-game, one-season trip.
Stars: Host Los Angeles Wednesday.
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