20/20: Stars skewer Sabres on good night for goaltending
The 20/20 the morning after.
Between working on reporting for another story, spending time at the Under-18 Five Nations Tournament, and dinner with a friend I didn’t get to watch the Dallas Stars 2-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres live on Tuesday.
I did watch it on tape delay (or DVR or whatever) this morning, and since people said they don’t mind 20/20s in the mornings, here we are.
Let’s get into it.
1. There is going to be a lot about Jake Oettinger in this piece.
Which I’m sure you expected after Oettinger stopped 47 of 48 shots in arguably his best performance of the season.
It was a regular-season career-high for Oettinger in saves and shots faced. The Sabres also had 17-12 edge in high-danger chances according to Natural Stat Trick.
He was great, that’s an indisputable fact.
But before we get too deep into the Oettinger heroics, it’s important that this game is properly labeled.
The Stars played well enough and deserved to win this game.
It wasn’t just a goalie stealing a win on the road.
2. Let me explain.
For as good as Oettinger was, I felt Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was just as good on a night the Stars had 30 shots, including 16 in the third period.
The Stars had some quantity questions, only four shots on goal in the second period, but Dallas did a better job with quality chances. If you want to use Expected Goals as a metric, the Stars won that metric 4.06-3.25 according to Natural Stat Trick and 6.00-2.76 according to Evolving Hockey.
This was one of those games that data matches the eye test.
The Stars, and Oettinger, were thrilled with allowing shots from the outside. Meanwhile Luukkonen was harassed constantly from the actual high-danger spaces.
Here is the shot chart according to Evolving Hockey.
3. All of this serves as a reminder of how much Luukkonen has shifted the conversation about the Buffalo crease this season.
Devon Levi is still young, and he’s a goalie I think will be a bona fide No. 1, but he needs some seasoning. When he signed out of college last season, many people instantly used that as a sign that he was ready to do the heavy lifting.
This season has proven otherwise, as Levi has made AHL cameos and had more of a natural progression as a young goalie — and that’s OK.