Lindy Ruff was behind the bench in Buffalo tonight for the first time since he was relieved of his coaching duties by the Sabres last season, and led his Dallas Stars to a 4-3 victory over his former team.
The Sabres prepared a tribute to Ruff that aired on the jumbotron in the first period. The entire crowd of 18,295 in attendance for the game tonight gave Ruff a standing ovation, and many were in tears as his career highlights rolled on the big screen.
Lindy Ruff commented on the tribute after the game:
“It was awesome,” Ruff said. “I’ve always said the fans of Western NY and this area have been tremendous. I watched for a little while but I thought I may get a little emotional. It was first class by this organization… It was great to see a lot of the old faces.”
Ruff’s return to First Niagara Center was almost overshadowed by the Sabres trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the Islanders in exchange for Matt Moulson and future draft picks. For the first time since 2005, the number 26 jersey for the Buffalo Sabres no longer belongs to Thomas Vanek.
“I texted Thomas and wished him well.” Ruff commented on the Vanek trade. “Pretty good debute by his replacement. You’re trading a goal scorer for a scorer… “Thomas has been a real good Buffalo Sabre for all these years, maybe one of the best goal scorers I’ve ever been around.”
Moulson made his presence felt in Buffalo tonight, scoring two goals in the Sabres loss.
“He did a good job, he’s a hockey player.” Sabres’ coach Rolston said after the game. “In every zone he’s solid. In our zone, d-zone he was solid, plays his position, makes little plays through the neutral zone, gets to the net. He’s good and we’re glad we have him.”
The Stars got on the board early in this one, with a goal from Vernon Fiddler just 2:59 into the game. On only his second shift in a Sabres uniform, Matt Moulson tied the game just 27 seconds later. Tyler Ennis fed Moulson breaking up the center, allowing him to roof one past Kari Lehtonen.
Lehtonen made 22 saves on 25 shots in the win.
Dallas’ offense got the better of Buffalo’s defense late in the first, scoring back-to-back goals to close out the opening period. Alex Goligoski tallied one on the powerplay, and Tyler Seguin beat Ryan Miller five-hole to give the Stars a 3-1 lead going into the second.
Jamie Benn added to the Star’s lead, when he rifled a wrist-shot past Ryan Miller to put his team up 4-1. The Sabres showed some life on their powerplay with a goal from Steve Ott coming at 12:54 into the period.
Moulson again found the back of the net for his second goal of the night to bring the Sabres within one at 17:52 into the second period.
Ryan Miller made 25 saves on 29 shots in his ninth loss of the season.
Despite a strong effort by Buffalo throughout the game, their offense fell short as they continue to search for their first win at home.
The Sabres are on the road this week as they will look to turn things around this Thursday against the Rangers.
Lindy Ruff and the Stars head to Montreal to take on the Canadiens tomorrow night.