The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Nathan Gerbe scored the decisive shootout goal in the fifth round and the Buffalo Sabres rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.
Derek Roy forced overtime by scoring with 39 seconds left, and Thomas Vanek also scored to help the Sabres improve to 5-0-1 in their last six games. Ryan Miller made 24 saves in helping the Sabres (24-24-6) jump ahead of three teams and into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
Buffalo also improved to 6-0-4 in its past 10 home games, with its last loss coming against the New York Rangers on Dec. 10.
Michael Ryder and Tomas Vincour scored for the Stars, who lost for the first time in 63 games when leading after two periods. It was a 57-0-5 streak that dated to Oct. 31, 2009.
After Buffalo’s Brad Boyes and Dallas’ Jamie Benn traded shootout goals, Gerbe sealed the win in the fifth shootout round by backhanding a shot that struck the post and then caromed in off goalie Kari Lehtonen.
Ryder then had a chance to tie it, but shot high and wide while driving in from the left side.
It was a game that featured a wild finish in the Stars’ bid to win in Buffalo for the first time in more than 14 years. Dallas dropped to 5-0-2, including a tie, in its past seven trips to Buffalo, with the team’s last regular-season win coming on Oct. 7, 1997.
Vanek, playing in his first game after missing three because of an upper-body injury, cut the Stars’ lead to 2-1 with a power-play goal 5:07 into the third period. The goal came 50 seconds after Vincour put Dallas up 2-0.
Roy forced overtime by scoring his 11th goal of the season and only his third in 18 games. Paul Gaustad won a faceoff to the right of the Stars’ net and drew the puck back to Tyler Myers, who slapped a hard low shot from just inside the blue line. Lehtonen made the initial save, but couldn’t control the rebound, as the puck bounced off Buffalo’s Drew Stafford in front and skipped to Roy, who swept it in the open right side.
The Sabres controlled the third period, in which they scored twice to rally from two goals down, and outshot the Stars 13-3.
Vanek squandered a tremendous opportunity to win the game in the final seconds of overtime when he trailed Christian Ehrhoff in driving to the net following a Dallas giveaway inside its blue line. Ehrhoff cut across to the right side of the net and dropped the puck back to Vanek, who was then robbed by Lehtonen, who stuck out his right pad to block the shot.
Coming off a 4-2 win at Columbus, the Stars blew a chance to win consecutive road games for the first time since a three-game streak in mid-December.
Lehtonen had a strong game in stopping 34 shots through overtime, showing no signs of an illness that had been bothering him this week and while playing on consecutive nights. His best series of stops came during a Buffalo power play 2 1/2 minutes into the second period.
Lehtonen first got a piece of Stafford’s shot from in close, and then had to be sharp after a defender’s clearing attempt struck a player in front and bounced directly back toward the net. With Lehtonen unable to control the second rebound, Stafford drove to the net and lifted a shot toward the open right side, only to have it gloved by the outstretched goalie.