Sabres could have Vanek back against Stars
STARS (28-23-2) at SABRES (23-24-6)
: Dallas 4-5-1; Buffalo 4-5-1.
: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They haven't faced each other since Oct. 30, 2010, when the Stars earned a 4-0 victory at the American Airlines Center.
: If Buffalo has any hopes of surging up the standings and clinching a playoff spot, it will need the services of Thomas Vanek
The Sabres believe their sniper may be back in the lineup as early as Friday night. Vanek has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.
"We put him through a battery of extra tests after practice (Thursday). We'll see how he's feeling in the morning," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff told the team's official website. "He's the only one who knows whether he can go or not. If he says he's ready to go, and doesn't have any ill effects from what happened (Thursday), then he'll be back in."
: Dallas pulled back to the .500 mark on the road (13-13-0) with Thursday's 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. It's been quite some time since they earned back-to-back victories away from the American Airlines Center -- three months to be exact -- so the Stars know they'll need a 60-minute effort if they hope to pull out a win at the First Niagara Center.
More importantly, they'll need to be more consistent on the road if they have any plans of remaining in the Western Conference playoff race.
"It's going to be tough. Every year is, those last 30 games of the year," said defenseman Alex Goligoski, who had a goal and an assist for the Stars on Thursday night. "Everybody's fighting for position. And you've got other teams fighting for other reasons, for jobs and whatnot."
: Buffalo is coming off arguably its most impressive win of the season -- a 6-0 shutout against the Boston Bruins at the First Niagara Center on Wednesday night. Sabres captain Jason Pominville
scored twice, while Ryan Miller
stopped all 36 shots he faced, including 17 in the third period.
Buffalo is 4-0-1 in its last five games, outscoring its opponents 15-6 during that span.
"It's huge. It shows we're ready to play and we're not going to get pushed over," forward Patrick Kaleta
said. "The past little while, our mentality has been going in there and getting the battles done and going out and competing. I thought we did a great job of that tonight."
: Dallas forward Jamie Benn has 7 goals and 7 assists over his last 11 games. … Pominville has 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in his last two contests.
: Stars captain Brenden Morrow (upper body) is on injured reserve. He is expected to miss at least a few more days. … Buffalo is expected to be without Jochen Hecht
(concussion) and Colin Stuart
: Buffalo is 5-0-5 in its last 10 home games, its longest such streak since January of 2010. The Sabres haven't lost a home game in regulation since Dec. 10.
: "There's going to be no easy games; we know that. I think our work ethic was a lot better tonight. That was good to see." -- Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski after Thursday's 4-2 win at Columbus