Sabres 4, Stars 3
With the crowd chanting “Marty! Marty!” Biron won his 11th straight start in Buffalo’s 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Biron made 32 saves, including 16 in the final period, in extending his personal and franchise-best winning streak. He became the first goalie to win 11 in a row since New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur in 2001.
“That’s never happened, to be honest with you,” Biron said about the crowd’s vocal reaction to his stellar goaltending. “When that happens, you work twice as hard because you want to keep it up and give them more to cheer at.”
Biron and the Sabres have done just that over the last month. Since a 6-1 loss to Ottawa on Nov. 12, Buffalo has rattled off wins in 12 of 14 games. They have 20 wins, the most since winning 20 of their first 29 games in 1979-80.
The Sabres used the clash against the Stars as a test of their ability to play at an elite level. They passed, beating a Dallas team that had won five straight and 13 of its last 15.
“We wanted to make a statement that we’re no pushovers, and that we’ve got a great team here” said Derek Roy, who had a goal and an assist. “I think now every team is going to be ready to play us and not take us for granted anymore.”
The Sabres also gave President Clinton a good show. Attending the game as the guest of Sabres owner Tom Golisano, Clinton visited the Sabres’ locker room before the game, interrupting head coach Lindy Ruff’s pregame meeting.
“It was awesome,” Ruff said. “He talked about how he loves sports and going to hockey games. He thinks it’s a great game in person.”
Afinogenov scored his sixth goal 3 minutes into the game, giving Buffalo a 1-0 first-period lead while setting the tone for the night.
“That was huge, especially against this team,” said Roy, who assisted on the goal. “That opened things up for us, and gave us some momentum.”
Playing their first game since a 2-1 win in Toronto on Saturday night, the Stars seemed sluggish through the first two periods. They rebounded with a frenzied third, only to be stopped by Biron.
“We just didn’t have the jump right away,” Stars forward Brenden Morrow said. “We expected a big game from them because they’ve been hot.”
Biron helped preserve the win with back-to-back saves on Jason Arnott and Bill Guerin on close-in attempts with 16 minutes left in the third, and stopped Guerin again at the doorstep with less than a minute to go.
Biron, though, shrugged it all off.
“That’s part of the game,” he said. “Our job is to stop the puck.”
“It was less about effort and more about execution,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “We had some good chances and didn’t score and it caught up with us.”
Roy and Vanek scored in the second period to make it 3-0, but the Stars countered with goals by Lehtinen and Ott in a 1 1/2 -minute span. It was Lehtinen’s team-leading 16th of the season.
Briere gave Buffalo a 4-2 lead in the third with his 13th goal, but Robidas closed the gap to 4-3 with his third goal of the season with 7 minutes to go.
Dallas goalie Marty Turco had his four-game winning streak snapped, finishing with 18 saves. He failed in his attempt to become the NHL’s first 17-game winner.
Dallas also failed to score on the power play, snapping its franchise-record 18-game streak with at least one goal with the man advantage. The Stars were scoreless on four power-play opportunities.
“Biron played great,” Stars center Stu Barnes said. “He was rock solid.”
Forward Niklas Hagman played his first game for the Stars after being acquired from Florida on Monday. He assisted on Robidas’ goal. … Dallas D Philippe Boucher missed his third game with a broken finger. … Buffalo D Dmitri Kalinin missed his first game because of a hairline fracture in his finger. … Dallas failed to score in the first period for the first time in five games. … Several fans had “No Goal” signs, in reference to Brett Hull’s controversial, Stanley Cup-winner for the Stars against the Sabres in 1999.