Valeri Nichushkin scored 51 seconds into the game and Antti Niemi stopped 24 shots to help the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 Tuesday night.
Alex Goligoski and Tyler Seguin also scored, and Dallas won a late coach’s challenge on the way to becoming the first NHL team to 15 wins this season. The Stars’ 30 points are tied with Montreal and the New York Rangers for tops in the league.
The win was Antti Niemi’s first in five tries against the Sabres, leaving Carolina as the only team he hasn’t beaten in his NHL career.
Ryan O’Reilly’s power-play goal with 6:57 to play broke Niemi’s shutout bid. Sam Reinhart tied the score moments later only to see the goal overturned after Stars coach Lindy Ruff challenged the call, and video review showed Tyler Ennis to be offside.
It was the second time Buffalo had a goal overturned for offside after a coach’s challenge.
Linus Ullmark made 26 saves for Buffalo, losers of two straight at home.
The win was Niemi’s first in five tries against the Sabres, leaving Carolina as the only team he hasn’t beaten in his NHL career.
A cross-checking call on Jamie Benn gave Buffalo a power play in the third, and O’Reilly made amends for a sloppy pass reception by rifling a wrist shot under Niemi.
The Stars’ early goal came when Nichushkin held up play in the right corner and worked a give-and-go with Antoine Roussel. Nichushkin then glided around the prone Ullmark before backhanding a low shot into the goal.
Dallas threatened to double its lead with several chances during a slashing penalty against Sam Reinhart, but Ullmark was well-positioned to stop each one.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a lower body injury on Oct. 13.
The Sabres looked much better in the second period, and came close to tying the game when O’Reilly spun hard inside the blue line before laying the puck off to Rasmus Ristolainen, whose deflected shot hit Niemi.
A pair of good saves came late in the second, as Ullmark stopped Patrick Eaves point blank and Niemi leapt to corral Jamie McGinn’s deflection.
Both teams struggled to generate real danger in the offensive end, and Cody Franson’s shot through traffic was caught easily by Niemi.
That’s when Goligoski gave the Stars some breathing room, gliding into the slot with the puck before beating Ullmark between the legs.
First Period—1, Dal, Nichushkin 2 (Roussel, Eakin), :51. Penalties—Reinhart, Buf (slashing), 10:37; Klingberg, Dal (high-sticking), 18:48.
Second Period—None. Penalties—None.
Third Period—2, Dal, Goligoski 2 (Janmark, Spezza), 7:35. 3, Buf, R.O’Reilly 6 (Franson, Ennis), 13:03 (pp). 4, Dal, Seguin 10 (Ja.Benn, Goligoski), 18:33 (en). Penalties—Ja.Benn, Dal (cross-checking), 12:37; Goligoski, Dal (delay of game), 13:16.
Shots on Goal—Dal 9-12-8—29. Buf 6-11-8—25. Power plays—Dal 0 of 1; Buf 1 of 3. Goalies—Dal, Niemi 7-3-0 (25 shots-24 saves). Buf, Ullmark 4-3-0 (28-26). A—18,101 (19,070). T—2:36.