DALLAS – The Dallas Stars got some timely production from their special teams. Andrew Raycroft took care of the rest.
Raycroft made 34 saves for his eighth career shutout in his first start of the season, James Neal and Brenden Morrow scored power-play goals, and the Stars snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Raycroft was signed as a free agent in the off-season to back up Kari Lehtonen, who got the first nine starts.
Stars coach Marc Crawford decided it was time to go with Raycroft, and the 10-year veteran was busy in the second period as the Sabres sent 14 shots on net.
“Obviously, you want to play, but I looked at the schedule at the start and knew if we got off to a good start, I probably wasn’t going to start until November,” Raycroft said. “The way (Lehtonen) played, that’s the way it went early.”
Dallas had been 2 for 25 on the power play in its previous six games, and the Stars began the night last in the league on the penalty kill.
Special teams has been a focus in practice, and there were signs of progress. Steve Ott scored short-handed, the Stars killed two Buffalo power plays and Dallas went 2 for 7 with the man advantage.
Dallas had lost the first three of a season-long six-game homestand, and fans have been more interested in the Texas Rangers’ run to the World Series.
The announced attendance was 15,015, but the arena was about half full with the Rangers playing their first World Series home game Saturday night. Highlights were shown on the big video screen and approximately half the televisions in the arena were tuned to Texas’ 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
“We had to stop the bleeding at home,” Morrow said. “It was good to nip this and get rolling in the right direction again. Special teams were huge. (Raycroft) made some timely stops to keep the momentum and the special teams did what they hadn’t been able to do the last few games—capitalize on the power play and close the door on the penalty kill.”
Trevor Daley added an even-strength goal and Brad Richards had two assists.
The Stars cashed in on a 5-on-3 advantage at 7:34 of the opening period on Neal’s drive from the right circle. Morrow’s deflection at 18:20 of the second period made it 2-0.
Ott’s penalty-kill rebound at 5:05 of the third period and Daley’s goal at 11:35 gave the Stars a four-goal pad. Raycroft went on to wrap up Dallas’ first shutout of the season.
Patrick Lalime stopped 37 shots for Buffalo in his second start of the season. Ryan Miller has started the other 10 games.
The Sabres, who completed a 1-2-1 trip, appeared weary at times after playing Friday night in Atlanta. Buffalo was shut out for the second time this season.
“We tried to play a little more aggressive and we got flagged for some calls,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re playing back-to-back games and it takes a lot of players out of the game. You can try to kill four (penalties), but it takes a lot of energy out of your team.”
NOTES: Dallas D Stephane Robidas was back on the top pairing with Nicklas Grossman after serving an automatic one-game NHL suspension Thursday night. Robidas was suspended for his second boarding major in 41 games in a game against Anaheim earlier in the week. … The teams had their only meeting this season. … Sabres D Craig Rivet was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Ruff has been critical of his defence and sent a message to his team by sitting his captain.