Buffalo took a page out of the Wild’s playbook with two of their own power play goals in the second period and Robin Lehner had another outstanding game in net for Buffalo, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the much hungrier Minnesota team.
Minnesota wasted no time grabbing an early lead in the first period. With just 2:16 off the clock, a shot from David Jones came off the side of the net to the left of Robin Lehner, bounced off Rasmus Ristolainen’s foot and trickled through the legs of the Sabre netminder.
From that point on the Wild showcased their speed and desperation and for much of the period they were consistently taking the play to Buffalo, outshooting the Sabres 10-4. The first period ended with Minnesota up 1-0.
The Sabres found their legs in the second period and dominated much of the play. With the help of a four minute high sticking penalty to the Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, Buffalo netted a pair of power play goals to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
With just over a minute gone in the penalty, Johan Larsson snapped home the rebound of a Rasmus Ristolainen shot past Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk to tie the game. With the power play still on for Buffalo, Jack Eichel finished off a pretty three-way passing play from Sam Reinhart and Cal O’Reilly for his 19th of the year, giving Buffalo a one goal lead heading into the dressing room.
The third period was a see-saw affair with both teams having decent scoring opportunities. The Sabres did a great job all afternoon keeping the potent Minnesota power play off the ice. At least that was the case until the 13:45 of the third when Josh Gorges was sent to the penalty box for tripping.
The Wild showed why they have scored a power play goal in 12 straight road games when they converted a nice passing play from Matt Dumba to Mikko Koivu, who proceeded to wrist a shot past Lehner to tie the game at 2.
The overtime period had some excellent scoring chances for both clubs, but the game eventually came down to a shootout. Former Sabre Jason Pominville’s wrist shot beat Robin Lehner for a Minnesota victory, 3-2.
With the victory, Minnesota extended its win streak to four games and helped in their hunt for the second wild card spot in the West.
The line of Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, and Sam Reinhart continued to show signs of brilliance this afternoon. The trio had several great scoring opportunities and if kept together, they can become a dominating line for years to come for Buffalo.
The Sabres have a busy week ahead of them. First up is a game against the Maple Leafs Monday night at the Air Canada Centre followed by games against the New York Rangers on Tuesday and the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.