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Stars-Sabres Postgame Quotes

Here are some quotes following Saturday’s Dallas Stars-Buffalo Sabres game which the Stars won 5-1. These quotes are provided by Dallas Stars PR.

Stars Head Coach Ken Hitchcock

On Gemel Smith’s play tonight:

“He’s a hockey player. He acts like a hockey player and plays like a hockey player. You don’t have to tell him twice. He has a feel for the game and does a lot of things that just help you win hockey games. He’s underrated offensively and he’s competitive and really good on the boards. He builds you good minutes every night. Right now, you have 15 or 16 really good minutes coming from him every night. You don’t have to talk to him and he just plays.”

On how important it is to have wins like tonight where it was not close:

“I don’t look at it so much that way. It’s early in the season. I look at it from the standpoint that this was a tough game. Guys are tired and we’ve had no break and we won’t get another break until after Monday’s game. The guys had a great attitude going into today. Our first period and our third period were excellent. I look at it from the standpoint that they really sucked it up and played a heck of a hockey game. They played tremendous in the first period and did a great job of managing the game in the third period. To me, those are the bigger steps. How to play and know how to win early and you can’t waste any energy. It’s hard when you are coming off the road to have a comeback game. Those are really difficult. We put the foot down right away, got the lead and then we were able to sit on it and manage the game as it went on which is a really good sign.”

On Kari Lehtonen’s play and if it changes what he might do on Monday against Winnipeg:

“I said this in training camp: I have two starting goalies. So, I ought to use them. That’s the real bonus for us. We have a lot of money tied up in that and we ought to use it. It’s a strength of the organization and we ought to use it. I don’t know if he is going to play Monday, but is he going to play more? Yes. But, the other thing I have learned is that there is a big difference between playing in Dallas and playing in St. Louis travel wise. This is very significant and it is going to force me to use two goalies way more than I thought because I didn’t understand the travel and scheduling part and I do now. So, we have to use both guys way more.”

On Radek Faksa’s injury:

“He is day-to-day and we will give you an exact number of days tomorrow and we will let you know in the morning.”

On Tyler Pitlick’s injury:

“He is the same. He is day-to-day and we will see in the morning there, too.”

On the mood change going from up 2-0 to 4-0 in the first period:

“Well, the mood changed because hard working players got rewarded for their hard work today. That was changed dramatically. Guys that have worked really hard that have been snake bitten all of the first part of this year and hadn’t scored all of a sudden are feeling good about themselves and contributing. So, the whole bench was excited. When you see [Radek] Faksa’s goal it’s not the same old five guys doing everything. We got a lot of contribution from a lot of different people and the bench got really excited by that. That was a great sign.”

Stars Goaltender Kari Lehtonen

On the goal support tonight and if an early lead changes his mindset:

“Of course it makes it different. You need to treat it more like a practice when it gets to four or five goals. Just go shot after shot and don’t think too much. You know they are going to have some good chances, so you just need to stay in there and stay calm and if they score one; so what. Just keep going.”

On what it’s like to see the offensive production that his team had tonight:

“That was huge. The first five minutes we were a little behind and they [Buffalo] were dictating the game. But, we then got some scoring from guys who haven’t done it too much, so that was huge. That got the ball rolling and we went from there.”

On how he still brings a starter’s mentality to the games he plays:

“I feel like I’m still a capable goalie and I think the guys who have been in this room know what I am all about. When I get there they know what they are going to get. I’m sure that’s something that comforts them and I need to keep bringing my A-game and help pick up wins here and there.”

Stars Defenseman John Klingberg

On how big it was to come out and score four goals early on:

“It was very big. We responded the way we needed to. We had a meeting yesterday about how things need to be better. We cleaned a lot of that up today. We held onto pucks, got into more battles, so that was a huge win for us. It was probably the best 60-minutes we have played this season. It was a great game for us.”

On the entire lineup producing tonight:

“That is what you need. (Tyler) Seguin’s line is going to play a lot of heavy minutes at home and I think they are winning that battle right now, but we need other guys to score on this team. Obviously they have been struggling a bit to start the season, but I know they are going to get a lot more goals. (Jason) Spezza is going to get a lot more goals, he had a lot of shots today and played pretty good even if he didn’t score.”

On the boast that Forward Gemel Smith brings to the team:

“He brings a whole lot. Look at his energy, it fits with the team and how we play. He’s a great guy too. You can’t stop laughing at him when he goes out there on the ice. He’s been a spark for us for sure. Look at the way he has been holding onto the pucks and working down low and the moves he has been making down there. He’s been great for us.”

Sabres Head Coach Phil Housley

On the lack of zone time:

“I thought we had the start we wanted. We came out and we were forcing the play. We were forcing the issue and just had a couple bad bounces. If you look at our first period, some of the goals were tough ones to watch and look at because I thought our guys played really well. It’s unfortunate, but you look after the first period, it’s a 1-1 hockey game. I thought we had the start we needed. It’s unfortunate they capitalized on their chances and when you get down three or four goals in this league it’s going to be tough to come back.”

On if he talked to goalie Robin Lehner after pulling him:

“No, I just thought we needed change of goalie. You get the change of momentum. It’s unfortunate, if I asked him if he wanted those three back he probably would. It’s one of those things. He played really well in Arizona but tonight wasn’t the case.”

On the defensive coverage on the first two goals:

“You look at the first one; it’s right in front of him. Give them credit, they went to the net hard. The second one bounces over [Matt] Tennyson’s stick, he’s right there, and it just comes to their guy. It’s unfortunate. We would’ve liked to change that, yes, because I thought our guys played well and did a lot of good things. It’s easy to get negative right now, but I thought we played good. It was just unfortunate we got bad bounces against us. But again, we have to get regrouped here and we’ve got a big game on Tuesday.”

Sabres Forward Ryan O’Reilly

On what went wrong in the first period:

“I thought we started the game with a great jump. You could see as we were moving right away that we were physical. A couple bad bounces. They happen. We still can make better plays in certain situations, but the bad bounces took the wind out of our sails and it was tough.”

On bad coverage on the early goals:

“We all could’ve played a bit better, but it’s a lucky bounce by them a couple times and getting their shots through. They went their way and we need to respond better than we did.”

Sabres Goaltender Robin Lehner

On tonight’s game:

“I thought we came out well. We had a misplay behind the goal and they got a goal fast. We didn’t panic, but then got a tough bounce and it came off my stick and they scored off a rebound and we’re behind 2-0. Then they scored a third after that. I honestly think the guys played well today. It’s tough to get down 4-0.”

On how hard it is to watch the rest of the game after being pulled:

“It’s hard. This is the sport I chose. I am pretty fortunate. At the end of the day, I am a goalie in the National Hockey league. This has happened to a lot of goalies. You just have to throw this out and move onto the next game. I think we have been playing some decent hockey lately. We just have to keep pushing.”