DALLAS (AP) — Joe Pavelski scored the go-ahead goal on a tipped puck with his back to the net and the playoff-bound Dallas Stars got their 50th win of the season, 3-2 over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

“It kind of looks routine,” Jason Robertson said of Pavelski’s goal. “So not surprised at all.”

Robertson and Wyatt Johnston also had goals while Thomas Harley had two assists for the Stars, who won for the 10th time in 11 games and have a Western Conference-high 109 points with three games to play. They moved within one point of the Rangers for the most in the NHL after New York lost on Tuesday.

Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin had goals in the first period for Buffalo, which failed to score on two power plays in the third period and was eliminated from playoff contention for the 13th season in a row.

“If you wait until too late in the season to make your push, it’s going to catch up with you at the end, and it did this year,” Tuch said.

“This is something we have to learn from this season and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Dahlin said.

Stars goalie Jake Oettinger won his eighth game in a row by stopping 19 shots. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had 22 saves for Buffalo.

The Stars and Sabres both had goals overturned on replay challenges because of high sticks.

Pavelski’s 27th goal of the season broke a 2-2 tie in the second period on a shift when he was battling against the boards behind the net to keep possession before skating back in front. After Chris Tanev shot the puck, the 39-year-old Pavelski put his stick on it and then turned to watch it slide just inside the post for the lead. It was his 1,067th career point, fifth-most for U.S.-born players.

“He’s all-time. He’s one of the best, if not best, tippers to ever play,” teammate Mason Marchment said. “It’s fun to watch him and learn from him, and how he finds those little pockets.”

Buffalo thought it had gotten even later in the period when Jack Quinn knocked in a puck from the slot after Dahlin reached up with his stick and lunged forward to keep it in the zone. But the Stars challenged and that tally was overturned.

Dallas had a goal overturned in the first period when a replay challenge showed that Marchment’s stick was just above the crossbar when he deflected a puck into the net.

That was only 44 seconds after the Stars got even 1-1 on Robertson’s 28th goal on the same night fans were given bobbleheads of the forward.

Dahlin’s 20th goal put Buffalo up 2-1 after his shot got under the pads and through Oettinger’s legs.

It was 2-2 when Johnston scored 3 1/2 minutes into the second period. It was an active shift for the 20-year-old, who had a shot blocked by one of his own teammates before scoring with a quick backhanded swipe around Dahlin in the slot.

The Stars have 50 wins for the first time since 2015-16, which was the last time they were Central Division champs. They last won the NHL’s President’s Cup in 1998-99, the season of their only Stanley Cup title.


Buffalo plays its home finale Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.

The Stars at home again Thursday night against playoff-bound Central Division foe Winnipeg, and former Dallas coach Rick Bowness.


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