The 1st period was a scrappy affair. Kyle Brodziak got the Wild on the board after 5 minutes when he beat Jhonas Enroth 5-hole on a wrist shot, with assists going to Matt Cooke and Jonas Brodin (the 3rd of the season for each of those guys). Zemgus Girgensons looked impressive for the Sabres and beat Dumba to draw a penalty in a little battle between the rookies. Clayton Stoner had a scrap with Cody McCormick which resulted in him going to the room for some repairs. Brodin and Granlund both looked impressive in the early stages.
A lighting failure delayed the start of the 2nd period. When play did resume, the Sabres were decidedly more "gung-ho" in their approach and had a few decent looks but the Wild mostly controlled the play. Johan Larsson looked good and gave Stoner a few headaches. Enroth made some great stops as the Wild continued to create chances with Parise looking particuarly dangerous on the forecheck. The locals were frustrated and there was a lot of booing around the arena. Eventually the Sabres got their goal, when Brian Flynn, Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko found themselves in a 3-on-2 situation and Girgensons set Flynn up for the finish. The Wild regained the lead a few minutes later on the powerplay after some scintillating passing between Spurgeon, Koivu and Pominville, with Doodle finishing it off and drawing the ire of the home fans.
The 3rd period was quietly controlled by the Wild as the Sabres tried to push on and find a game-tying goal. Stoner took a roughing penalty which the Wild killed off, and the Wild had two powerplays in which they looked really good but couldn't find a way past Enroth. In the end the Wild were too solid defensively and held-out for the Win.
Final Score: 2-1
- Dany Heatley missed a couple of reasonably easy chances, but his overall game looked better, particularly the defensive side.
- Koivu is still looking very good but can't seem to find the goal to open the floodgates for his scoring.
- The Wild weren't as dominant in terms of puck possession tonight (Corsi Close: 22-22, Fenwick Close: 18-19) but still did enough to keep the Sabres at bay. Their performance in the second half of the 2nd period was poor.
- Granlund and Spurgeon both seem to be a real force on the PP this year and looked extremely composed and creative again tonight.
- Jonas Brodin is the truth.
- The scoreline isn't overly flattering, but the Sabres are playing desperate now and are probably pretty frustrated with how the season is going. They held the Blackhawks to the same scoreline, so the Wild did well to win in regulation even if the Sabres have bee extremely inferior this season.
- Thomas Vanek was fairly anonymous tonight. But the youngsters Girgensons Grigorenko and Larsson all impressed. Enroth was tidy as well.
- Clayton Stoner had a poor game and seemed to fall back into some old habits after a good run of form. It might not be the worst idea to sit him tomorrow night. I'd like to see Dumba with a different partner too just to see how he plays.
- Keith Ballard took a puck to the face and did not return. That's why you should always wear a visor, kids.
1.) Minnesota has dominated all but one game thus far and the game in which they didn't was the game on the road in Nashville. Can the Wild parle their dominating efforts at home on to enemy ice?
A: Not quite, but they still did enough to get the win.
2.) The defensemen have been playing lights out in the 2 wins for the season for the Wild. Can Marco Scandella catch up and play on par for what his teammates are doing around him?
A: Well he wasn't playing, but I guess he could be back in the picture after Stoner had a terrible game and Ballard possibly got injured.
3.)The West has owned the East so far this season. Does the trend continue for the Wild tonight?
A: Sure does.
4.) Every Minnesota fan is looking at the possibility of Vanek signing with Minnesota in free agency. Does the Wild do enough to "WOW" him to get him to consider it?
A: Well compared to the Sabres, I guess they looked great. Vanek was bad though.
5.) Can Pominville notch a couple points in his first return to Buffalo since the trade?
A: He went and got himself a GWG just to pile more misery onto the Sabres faithful.
Next game is in Toronto tomorrow night. Keep checking Hockey Wilderness and @HockeyWildernes during the day for all the news and updates before the game.