When you're feeling down, and your hockey team is in the dumps, just book a trip to Buffalo for a much needed pick-me-up game against the Sabres. The Wild came into tonight's game on a 6 game losing streak, with a coach on the ropes and a newly acquired netminder in Devan Dubnyk. The Buffalo Sabres were just what the doctor ordered for a team battling the losing bug.
The Wild would get the game going early. They dominated in the shot department, and it led to first period goals from Zach Parise and a power-play marker from Thomas Vanek. Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville would get the assists on both goals in the first period which saw the Wild walk away with a 15-3 lead in the shot department and a 2-0 lead in the game. With Zach Parise's goal at the 5:13 mark of the first, it would end a streak of 259:52 where the Wild were without a lead. That's 4-full games and parts of 2 more.
Matt Dumba looked like he was hungry to stay up with the big club tonight too. Showing Coach Yeo he has all the #Grit you could ask for when he dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers. He definitely lost this bout, but if that's the kind of behavior Yeo likes to see, Dumba was certain to show coach he wasn't afraid to tango.
More of the same for the 2nd period as the Wild continued their domination over the Sabres. The Wild would put a 3 spot up against the Sabres in the middle frame highlighted by a great effort from Erik Haula shorthanded where he dashed down the ice and was able to disrupt the Sabres play enough and dish a puck out to Kyle Brodziak who had a wide open net at his disposal. Just a great individual effort by Haula, and a nice short handed finish by Brodziak which got the scoring going for the Wild in the 2nd period.
Dumba would get in on the scoring as well in the 2nd period. He dropped a bomb from the point, low and hard, and it found the twine. One helluva shot from the kid, exactly as he's been advertised to us while he was coming up through the ranks. Dumba's goal would give Pominville his 3rd assist against his former team, and Parise would get the helper as well.
Capping off the scoring in the 2nd period, we would get a tank sighting as Jared Spurgeon would let one rip from the behind the circle and get a deflection off a Sabres defender. Jonathon Blum and Ryan Carter would get their names on the score sheet with the assists on the Spurgeon goal that put the Wild up 5-0 to close out the 2nd period.
With the start of the 3rd period, the Wild would find themselves with a huge lead, and almost 90 seconds on the PP. They would not convert on PP, but a couple minutes later Matt Cooke would deflect a Kyle Brodziak shot past Jhonas Enroth, putting the Wild up 6-0 over the Sabres. It was actually more of an own-goal, but we'll take it every single day of the week.
With the game well out of reach, Chris Stewart would take a run at Nate Prosser late in the 3rd period and draw and elbowing call. Honestly, I didn't see any elbows get thrown around, but Yeo decided that if you're going to take runs at our guys in a game that is essentially over, I'm going to throw my PP units back out there after just rolling his regular lines on the PP previously with the big lead. It would end with Erik Haula scoring a goal earning his 2nd point of the contest and putting the Wild up by a touchdown and the extra-point. Thomas Vanek would get an assist and his 2nd point of the night, with Christian Folin gaining the 2nd helper for his first point of the night.
Before the puck dropped, the Wild were in desperate need of a win to save their season and quite possibly their head coaches job. Yeo certainly isn't off the hot seat yet, but it's starting to cool off after tonight's dominant performance by the Wild in Buffalo. It's nice to lay the smack down on anyone in the NHL, even a "bad" team like the Buffalo Sabres. The Wild put 37 shots at Enroth tonight, and found the back of the net often which was more than refreshing to see.
Dubnyk wasn't tested terribly hard in tonight's game, but it was awesome to see he didn't allow anything soft to get past him. He stopped all 18 shots he faced and earned the shutout in his Minnesota Wild debut. Dubnyk after the game said "That's probably the most complete game of hockey I've ever been a part of". Welcome to the State of Hockey Dub!
We're certainly not out of the woods yet, but if this was a precursor to what we can look forward to the rest of the season, the future is looking pretty bright for your Minnesota Wild.