DALLAS — The Dallas Stars are hoping Antti Niemi can re-find his form at American Airlines Center.
Niemi has been very good at home this season and has a .925 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average in 16 home games. However, those numbers took a negative jump when Niemi allowed three goals on three shots in his last home start on Jan. 14 against the Minnesota Wild.
Niemi’s next start ended in a win, but he was pulled after allowing six goals on 28 shots in a 7-6 victory against the New York Rangers on the road.
Now the Stars need Niemi to find find his confidence before Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
“A lot of times for goaltenders it’s making that big save and feeling good about yourself,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Usually that’s it. Get him some quality practice time, some quality practice and reps and focus on the fact for a good stretch of time he played really well at home for us.”
It’s a key game for the Stars headed into the All-Star Break. While Dallas has lost back-to-back games to the Washington Capitals and Minnesota, a win against Buffalo would give them four out of six points during a three-game home stretch.
“We’ve been trying to get on a run, we might have played two of our best games against Washington and (Minnesota),” Ruff said. “But we’ve missed too many opportunities on the execution side.”
If you are amongst the first 10,000 through the doors at AAC tonight, this is your prize.
Tonight’s giveaway at AAC pic.twitter.com/AtRs5mVyXw
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 26, 2017
Sabres projected lineup
Tyler Ennis – Ryan O’Reilly – Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta
William Carrier – Cal O’Reilly – Matt Moulson
Dmitry Kulikov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Zach Bogosian – Cody Franson
Justin Falk – Taylor Fedun
Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers, Casey Nelson
Injured: Josh Gorges (hip), Johan Larsson (wrist, elbow), Jake McCabe (shoulder), Cody McCormick (blood clot)
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn — Cody Eakin — Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel — Jason Spezza — Tyler Seguin
Laurik Korpikoski — Devin Shore — Patrick Sharp
Curtis Mckenzie — Adam Cracknell — Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Patrik Nemeth — Stephen Johns
Dan Hamhuis — Jordie Benn
Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Julius Honka
Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Radek Faksa (lower body)