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In midst of strong November, Johnson gets another chance in goal for Sabres

DALLAS -- Chad Johnson's numbers are going to be skewed for much of the season by the seven-goal meltdown he endured Oct. 23 against Montreal. But November has been a huge step forward for Johnson, who makes his fourth start of the month for the Sabres tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Johnson is 1-0-1 in his three November appearances, posting a 1.11 goals-against average and stopping 70 of 73 shots for a .959 save percentage. Going deeper, he had made 70 consecutive saves until Patrick Marleau's overtime goal at 3-on-3 last Saturday for San Jose -- and has gone 191 minutes, 51 seconds over his last four outings without giving up a 5-on-5 goal.

"He's got a steady calm demeanor about him," coach Dan Bylsma said early this afternoon after the team's pregame skate in American Airlines Center. "The Montreal game was a lot of goals to let in but I kept him in that game because I knew I was going to be starting Linus Ullmark the next night. He's been solid, confident. He's been in control. You think about the games he's played well for us, he's been calm and kind of quiet. He's a little opposite of Linus in terms of being dynamic."

Ullmark has started the last two games for Buffalo. Johnson watched from the bench Tuesday as Ullmark had the net for Buffalo's 3-1 loss to Dallas in First Niagara Center.

"They're a quick team and I don't know if we saw their best," Johnson said. "Really skilled and they want to have the puck. They make quick plays and throw a lot of pucks on the net. They create a lot of traffic there. It's all about sticking with our game, making sure we have a good forecheck and not giving them chances.

"The more you can play, the more comfortable you feel and I've had a lot of starts for my rhythm to keep things going."

There is zero issues in the Buffalo dressing room about the way either goalie has played in the wake of Robin Lehner's injury.

"It's been going extremely well for us there," said captain Brian Gionta. "They've come right in and given us the chance to win every night. It's really pretty amazing the situation they've put us in."

Johnson will oppose Antti Niemi in goal tonight. The Sabres will go with the same lineup they had Thursday in St. Louis, which means Tim Schaller is a healthy scratch, Mark Pysyk remains out with a lower-body injury and Carlo Colaiacovo takes his place. Bylsma said Pysyk has a bone bruise and is day to day.

Click here for today's earlier post on Lindy Ruff's thoughts about the Sabres' game in St. Louis.

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