Lindy Ruff won 571 games as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, so it only seems fitting that his 600th came against his old team as the Dallas Stars bested Buffalo 3-2 on Monday.
Here’s video of the game-winning goal, which was credited to Alex Chiasson:
Whether they decide to dangle him in a trade or not, Stars veteran Ray Whitney had a nice night, collecting two assists. The Stars hammered 37 shots on Jhonas Enroth, who kept Buffalo in the game despite a serious disparity in play.
Chris Stewart didn’t have the greatest debut (or some wonder, lone appearance) in Buffalo, registering a -2 rating in 17:24 minutes. Jaroslav Halak watched the game – likely to keep him healthy in case the right trade offer comes – but Matt Moulson continues to pump up his trade value, as the forward added two assists today.
With the Minnesota Wild also winning today, the Stars kept pace with the West’s bubble teams. Here is how the West wild card race looks as of this evening:
Two wild card teams
Minnesota: 75 points in 62 games played
Dallas: 68 points in 61 GP
Bubble teams (cutoff at 60+ points)
Winnipeg: 66 points in 62 GP
Vancouver: 66 points in 63 GP
Phoenix: 65 points in 61 GP
Nashville: 62 points in 61 GP
Ruff already won his return home to Buffalo. It’s possible the former Sabres coach might just squeeze into the playoffs thanks in part to victories against Buffalo, but the Stars still have a long way to go.
Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.
For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.
So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.
Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.
As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:
The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.
Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.
As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.
It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:
We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.
The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.
Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?
It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.
You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.
The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.
Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:
When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:
Maybe it’s just a minor setback?
Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.