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Nichuskin scores early, Niemi stops 24 shots to help Stars beat Sabres 3-1 for 15th win


BUFFALO, New York — Buffalo's comeback was stymied by video replay, and Dallas goalie made the most of his second chance to hold off the Sabres.

scored 51 seconds into the game and Niemi finished with 24 saves to help the Stars beat the Sabres 3-1 Tuesday night.

and 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.

Trailing 2-0, the Sabres awakened with a late power-play goal in the third period from , and appeared to have tied it 50 seconds later. However, the goal was overturned after Stars coach challenged the call, and video review showed to be offside.

"You feel kind of lucky after that," said Niemi. "Even if it was a fair call, it felt like a second chance."

The Stars killed off a late penalty before Seguin added an empty net goal.

"People were yelling offside right away on the entry," Ruff said. "Our video guy, Kelly Forbes came back and said it's offside so instantly, probably within 5 seconds."

It was the second time Buffalo had a goal overturned for offside after a coach's challenge.

made 26 saves for Buffalo, losers of two straight at home.

O'Reilly's power-play goal with 6:57 to play broke Niemi's shutout bid.

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 gave Buffalo a power play in the third, and O'Reilly mad e amends for a sloppy pass reception by rifling a wrist shot under Niemi.

"Absolutely nothing was going on," Benn said. "The building was pretty quiet. A bad penalty, they score and the building was rocking, and we finally got to play some hockey."

The Stars' early goal came when Nichushkin held up play in the right corner and worked a give-and-go with . Nichushkin then glided around the prone Ullmark before backhanding a low shot into the goal.

"I'm happy for him because it was a struggle the first 2-3 weeks and he was a pretty frustrated young man," Ruff said. "Now he's got a smile on his face and he's been working real hard."

Dallas threatened to double its lead with several chances during a slashing penalty against , but Ullmark was well-positioned to stop each one.

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 , whose deflected shot hit Niemi.

A pair of good saves came late in the second, as Ullmark stopped point blank and Niemi leapt to corral 's deflection.

Both teams struggled to generate real danger in the offfensive end, and 's shot through traffic was caught easily by Niemi.

That's when Spezza gave the Stars some breathing room, deflecting Goligoski's shot after the defenseman glided into the slot with the puck before firing a low shot toward Ullmark's five hole.

"Spezza and Janmark made a couple great little plays through their defense to let someone else get in the play," Goligoski said.

After O'Reilly got Buffalo on the scoreboard, Goligoski sent a clearance over the glass to give Buffalo another power play, and Reinhart fired a hard shot from the left past Niemi to tie the score.

But a coach's challenge saw Ennis enter the zone before the puck, and Buffalo's equalizer was taken away.

"I knew it was offside before the puck went in," Sabres coach said. "I didn't know 100 percent, but I had a pretty good idea. I didn't really need to wait to hear about the call."

Bylsma called timeout before a late faceoff in the Dallas zone, but the Stars won the draw and Seguin scored an empty-net goal with less than 1 1/2 minutes to go.

NOTES: RW Eaves returned to the Stars' lineup for the first time since suffering a lower body injury on Oct. 13. ... Buffalo D played his first game of the season after missing the first 18 with a lower body injury. .... Sabres forward skated with his teammates for the first time on Tuesday since spraining his left knee against New Jersey on Oct. 24.

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