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Oleksiak set for 2nd Dallas debut as Stars host Sabres

The Dallas Stars return from the All-Star break on Wednesday when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres, who returned to action Tuesday with a 5-4 road win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Stars had a 10-day respite after recording a 4-2 home win over Central Division-leading Winnipeg on Jan. 19. Dallas played four times on its season-high, six-game homestand before the break, and the Stars ended a four-game losing streak with the victory against the Jets.

During the break, Dallas made a move to bolster its blue-line play, acquiring defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft.

A hulking defender, the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Oleksiak was selected by the Stars 14th overall in the first round in the 2011 NHL Draft. He played 140 games with Dallas in six seasons, scoring seven goals and distributing 15 assists.

"We've been watching him closely, and he's a more mature, well-rounded player," Dallas general manager Jim Nill told NHL.com about Oleksiak, 26. "He's more calm in situations, his defensive reads, not as many highs and as many lows. There's a real consistency."

The Stars sent him to Pittsburgh for a fourth-round pick in 2019 -- the exact one used in Monday's trade -- in December 2017.

Oleksiak, who will be in a Stars uniform on Wednesday, produced eight goals and 17 assists in 83 total games for the Penguins. He said he thought he might be traded during the break, but he was stunned that he is back in Dallas.

"I was pretty speechless," Oleksiak said of his reaction to the trade. "When I heard it was Dallas, it threw me off guard, and a million emotions ran through my head. I am glad to be here now. It's always a little bit easier when you know guys in the room. Obviously, a new coaching staff, but it's been a pretty good transition so far."

Stars forward Tyler Pitlick did not practice Tuesday for a third consecutive day due to an upper-body injury, and he was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 17. Dallas recalled forward Roope Hintz from the AHL's Texas Stars to take his spot on the roster.

Buffalo, meanwhile, heads to Dallas for the second game of a road back-to-back. On Tuesday in Columbus, the Sabres got goals from Evan Rodrigues, Sam Reinhart and Tage Thomspon in the first period, a tally by Jeff Skinner in the second and the game-winner by Conor Sheary 2:12 into the third.

The Sabres have been one of the league's surprise teams over the first half of the season, especially early on. However, Buffalo went into the break with just one win in five games and is now 4-7-1 in its past 12 outings.

"As a whole, we need just focus on ourselves, right?" said Buffalo goaltender Carter Hutton, who stopped 33 shots in the win Tuesday. "At the start of the year, if you were to say we're at this point at this time, we'd probably take it. It's just the way that things have gone, the ups and downs. For us, (it's about) getting back to the simple things that brought us success early."

The ups and downs of the season led to 23-year-old Buffalo defenseman Lawrence Pilut being a healthy scratch on Tuesday after he played inconsistently during a 4-3 loss to Vancouver prior to the All-Star break.

Sabres coach Phil Housley acknowledged that Pilut has been solid for the team in the 16 games since he was recalled from AHL Rochester, and he hopes that sitting out will lead to better decision-making.

"Lawrence has had some games where he's made mistakes," Housley told reporters. "That's going to be part of his development, learning from those things. He's going to get another opportunity. He still has a good swagger about his game."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 30, 2019

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