DALLAS – A couple of days in Dallas and Derek Roy’s two goals gave the Buffalo Sabres a much-needed boost before the all-star break.
Instead of a long weekend contemplating another setback in a horrendous stretch, Roy provided the offence as the Sabres beat Dallas 2-1 on Thursday night for only their second win in 14 games.
“To salvage a couple of points here helps us feel good,” Roy said. “This gives us confidence that we can beat any team in the league. It gives us more confidence in our game.”
After a 6-2 loss at Phoenix on Monday, the most lopsided loss of the 13-game slide that included five overtime losses, the Sabres went straight to Dallas for their last game before the all-star weekend.
“That was really good for us, it helped us relax a little bit,” centre Paul Gaustad said.
They left feeling much better, though still near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Only Tampa Bay has fewer than their 48 points.
“It was a total team effort,” Gaustad said. “It was a good result going into the break.”
Roy scored the game-winner with 14:48 left after a 2-on-1 break with some nifty passing.
Taking a puck out of the corner in their own end, Roy, Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek charged the length of the ice for the tiebreaking goal. Vanek took a cross-ice pass and returned the puck to Roy just to the right of the net for a backhanded shot past Marty Turco.
The sporadic Stars go into the break 5-4-1 their last 10 games.
“It’s discouraging, frustrating,” Mike Modano said. “We had a lot of power plays, but we didn’t get many quality chances. We’re not taking advantage of our opportunities. … You can tell we’re running a little on fumes. Hopefully the rest will do us good.”
Without all-star defenceman Sergei Zubov for the fourth straight game because of a groin injury, Dallas went 0-for-6 with a man advantage. Zubov, a key to the Stars’ power play, is skipping the all-star game because of his injury and the team considers him day to day.
“We rely on some people to make the power play work, and right now it’s not working,” coach Dave Tippett said.
After having the best overall record in the NHL last season, the Sabres (21-21-6) are only one loss shy of matching last year’s total.
But they got a fast goal against the Stars, with the line of Roy, Stafford and Vanek also producing that score only 1:51 into the game.
Stafford passed from the left circle to the front of the net for Roy, who poked the puck past Turco.
“We needed a spark,” said Roy, who had a team-high 18 goals. “Getting a quick goal put them back on their heels.”
Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots for Buffalo. Turco had 17 saves.
Buffalo appeared to have a 2-0 lead midway through the second period before Vanek’s power-play goal was disallowed. Vanek deflected the puck past Turco by reaching out and then above shoulder level with his stick, and one of the officials quickly called for a review.
Dallas then got even at 1-1 late in the second period when Mattias Norstrom set up Stu Barnes’ eighth goal of the season.
Mike Ribeiro, the Stars’ leading scorer who is replacing Zubov on the all-star roster, was in front of the net with about 10 seconds left in the game but couldn’t get a handle on the puck for a final shot.
Already sporting two black eyes from fights in previous games, Stars right wing Krys Barch got into drawn-out scuffle with Andrew Peters. Barch took several more shots to the face and got in a few jabs as well.
Dallas was making a line change in the second period when Peters got checked hard in open ice by Steve Ott and flipped over. The two glared at each other, and Ott eventually went to the bench. But Barch came on the ice and instigated the fight, drawing a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
Notes: The Sabres played in Dallas for the first time since March 2003 and there were plenty of fans chanting “Let’s go Buffalo!” … When the Stars came out for pre-game warmups, they were greeted by the Prince song “1999” – a clear reference to the year they won the Stanley Cup in a six-game series against Buffalo.