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Feb 5, 2024 7:25 pm

Stars try to stay in high gear against short-handed Sabres

roope

The Dallas Stars entered their bye week and the ensuing NHL All-Star break on a high, winning three in a row and collecting at least a point in each of their past five games.

The Stars look to pick up where they left off Tuesday when they open a three-game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres.

“It’s good for the team morale,” Stars forward Mason Marchment said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Ended on a positive note, enjoy the break, recoup a little bit, rest up and come back with the same energy. We’re in a great spot. We’re right there in a whole bunch of different standards.”

The Stars rank third in the NHL in goals per game (3.69) and faceoff winning percentage (54.4) entering play on Monday. They also possess the league’s sixth-best penalty kill (82.9 percent) to remain hot on the heels of the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Central Division and the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’re in the mix for the division and the conference with some really good teams. I think we’re starting to play some really good hockey.

“Despite the scores and the goals we’ve given up, I think our game has been fairly solid and trending in the right direction.”

Jason Robertson leads the team in assists (33) and points (50) after recording 15 and 23, respectively, in his past 20 games.

Roope Hintz has totaled 11 of his club-best 22 goals in his past 16 games.

Defenseman Thomas Harley has scored in overtime in each of his past two games, giving him multi-point performances in three consecutive contests and in four of his past five.

While the Stars are ascending with their play, the Sabres announced disappointing news on Sunday, with defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (upper body) ruled out for the rest of the season and forward Jack Quinn expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks after he had surgery for a lower-body injury.

“Those are key guys and very talented guys,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said. “I feel the other guys that are going to have to step up, that you’re going to call on and are going to fill more minutes, are in a way better mind frame than they were. Their psyche is way better than it was a month ago.

“So, we lose these guys, but I still feel very confident in the group that’s going to have to pick up the slack for missing these guys.”

The Sabres will rely on Ryan Johnson and Connor Clifton to pick up shifts behind top defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power.

JJ Peterka scored two goals in each of his last two games before the All-Star break to lift his total to a team-leading 18. He had 12 goals in 77 games last season.

Casey Mittelstadt set up three goals over his past two games to boost his team-leading totals in assists (30) and points (42).

–Field Level Media

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