This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Dallas Stars hosting the Buffalo Sabres starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
— Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff could reach a major milestone tonight against the Sabres franchise that fired him. He’s just one victory away from becoming the 12th coach in NHL history to record at least the 600 career wins.
— Only two players in the NHL have at least 20 points and 100 penalty minutes and they’ll both be on the ice tonight. Chris Stewart, who the Sabres recently acquired from St. Louis as part of the Ryan Miller deal, has 26 points and 112 penalty minutes while Stars forward Antoine Roussel has recorded 21 points and 158 penalty minutes.
— Dallas is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games despite the fact that it’s only converted on one power-play opportunity in 26 tries. The Stars rank 25th in the league with a 14.4% power-play success rate.
— Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is on a five-game point streak going into tonight’s contest. That’s one contest shy of the 30-year-old forward’s career-high and the Sabres’ record for the 2013-14 campaign.
— Buffalo forward Ville Leino has played in 41 games this season, but still hasn’t found the back of the net despite scoring 19 goals in 2010-2011. Of those who have played in at least 30 games this season, only Vancouver’s Alex Burrows has netted more goals than Leino’s career-high in a previous campaign while still being goalless in 2013-14.
— If you need evidence that Miller was a vital part of Buffalo’s team, keep in mind that since the start of 2006-07, the Sabres are 248-161-53 in games where Miller was used and 51-67-20 in all other contests. He had a 2.58 GAA over that span while the rest of Buffalo’s goaltenders posted a 3.20 GAA.
— There have only been seven instances where the Sabres have led a game going into the third period in 2013-14. That’s the fewest out of any NHL team, but they are 5-0-2 in those games. The Stars have held the lead through 40 minutes far more frequently and have a commanding 20-1-2 record in that scenario. However, when it comes to overcoming a deficit going into the third period, these are two of the least successful teams in the league.
PHOENIX (AP) Columbus pummeled Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots, Alexander Wennberg scored with 2:16 left in the third period and the Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night.
Smith set a franchise record with 58 saves, but the Coyotes still lost their third straight.
Shane Doan got his 399th career goal and Radim Vrbata also scored for Arizona, which was playing its eighth overtime game in 23 contests.
Doan put Arizona ahead 2-1 at 11:04 of the second when he redirected Michael Stone‘s lobbed shot from just inside the blue line along the right boards.
Wennberg tied it at 2 by backhanding the puck between Smith’s pads off a pass from Brandon Saad.
The Blue Jackets needed only 13 seconds to take the lead in the first period. Jenner took a pass from Jack Johnson between the hashes and fired over Smith’s glove.
Smith made 47 saves between the two Columbus goals and 21 in the third period alone.
After failing to take advantage of a two-man advantage late in the first, the Coyotes evened the score on Vrbata’s rising shot off McElhinney’s blocker from the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal 63 seconds into the second period.
Smith helped preserve the lead with 5:30 left in the second, stopping Saad’s breakaway attempt with a sprawling pad save.
Don Cherry weighed in on it Saturday. As you might expect, he wasn’t in favor of the decision. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that completely swung in favor of the hosts in the span of just 19 seconds.
Erik Karlsson and Derick Brassard scored early in the first period, giving Ottawa a two-goal lead and that was the only scoring of the evening.
On taking over from Gallant, interim coach Tom Rowe said, per the Sun Sentinel: “This isn’t a knock on Gerard, because he did a great job.
“I just thought some guys weren’t bringing it the way they’re capable of bringing it every single night. A little too much inconsistency. They’d come out one period and play great. Another period they just sit back a little bit too tentative.”
That second paragraph is interesting.
Against the Senators, the Panthers had a slow start, illustrated by their 19-second lapse leading to the Ottawa goals. The Panthers found their game in the second period but tested Mike Condon with only 24 shots on goal by the end of the night.
They also couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the second period.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle, per the Miami Herald. “They had a good start, and sometimes you have to weather the storm throughout courses of games, and they did a good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes. If you look at the second period we were better.”
There were anxious moments for the Panthers, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad took a puck to the face in the second period. He missed about two minutes of game time, but did require stitches, according to Rowe.
Avs’ D-man Johnson suffers broken fibula, out six to eight weeks
It’s obviously devastating news for Colorado, which recently had its effort ripped by coach Jared Bednar. Issues with consistency and work ethic have been around since Patrick Roy was in charge.
The Avalanche have struggled since the beginning of the season after a late-summer coaching change, but they now occupy last place in the Western Conference with five straight losses.
Johnson has 11 points, which ties him with Tyson Barrie for the team lead among defenseman in that category.
In addition to playing 22 minutes a night, which is a substantial loss because he plays on both the penalty kill and power play, he’s also one of only two blue liners with the Avalanche to have even-strength puck possession numbers greater than 50 per cent.
The difficult times for the Avalanche continue.
Video: Caggiula (finally) scores his first NHL goal
Drake Caggiula had to wait to make his NHL debut because of a hip injury suffered in pre-season. He had to wait even longer for his first NHL goal.
On Saturday, the wait for the latter ended.
Playing in just his eighth career NHL game, the North Dakota product and NCAA Frozen Four MOP — pursued by at least half a dozen teams as a college free agent — ripped home a wrist shot from the slot on the power play for career goal No. 1 in the big league.
That goal gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.