As tall as he is, Tyler Myers' stock on the Buffalo Sabres grew even larger after the rookie defenceman enjoyed a career-best performance Wednesday night.
At six-foot-eight, Myers had a goal and three assists to spark the Sabres' sluggish offence in a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars. Aside from helping Buffalo score five goals for the first time in 18 games, the rookie of the year candidate helped the team regain the top spot in the Northeast Division.
"He's been an important piece to our team," coach Lindy Ruff said of the player who celebrated his 20th birthday last month. "I thought even in the third period, he was just having fun playing."
It was an enjoyable night for Myers, who opened the scoring in the first minute with a shot that deflected in off of three bodies. He then played a role in securing the victory, getting an assist on Thomas Vanek's goal that broke a 3-3 tie midway through the second period.
For Myers, who leads Buffalo defencemen with 36 points (nine goals, 27 assists), all that mattered was helping his team extend its winning streak to three, the Sabres' longest since a six-gamer ended in early January.
"We don't want to stop there, we want to make it four," Myers said. "It's always nice to have a breakout game like that when you get that many goals."
Derek Roy, who scored into an empty net, and rookie Mark Mancari had a goal and assist each, while Jason Pominville also scored for Buffalo (36-20-9), which moved two points ahead of idle Ottawa in the Northeast.
Outside looking in
Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist, and Steve Ott and Toby Petersen also scored for the Stars, 1-4 in their past five games. The Stars (29-25-12), who return to Dallas to open a six-game homestand, are 10th in the Western Conference, five points behind Calgary for the eighth and final playoff berth.
No need to remind Ott how important the Stars' upcoming stretch is.
"It's our season," Ott said. "If we don't get the ship in the right direction, you might as well call it a season."
The Stars were resilient in matching the Sabres goal for goal through the first period, which ended tied 3-3. The trouble began in the second period, when Dallas failed to generate much offence in being outshot 15-5.
"The game was there," coach Marc Crawford said. "Our chances were spectacular in the first period. For some reason, we stopped doing those things and we tried to overcomplicate it."
The Stars were eventually outshot 43-20 overall, putting far too much pressure on Marty Turco to bail them out a second time after the goalie stopped 49 shots in a 4-3 shootout win at Washington on Monday.
Turco particularly had no chance on Vanek's go-ahead goal, which was set up after Myers' shot from the point was tipped and deflected high off the glass before landing behind the Stars net. That's where Mancari collected it and smartly fed a wide-open Vanek, who roofed a shot over Turco from atop the crease.
Sabres goalie Miller was hardly tested in stopping 17 shots. But his best came with 5:11 left when he stopped Trevor Daley's initial shot from the right circle and then stretched back with his stick to stop the puck from bouncing in after the rebound deflected off a player in front.
"It was good to see the guys put some pucks in and get rewarded for their effort," Miller said. "It was a pretty complete game."