Sabres face familiar foes in Minnesota

The Buffalo Sabres are in St. Paul, Minnesota tonight to face the Wild in the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Expect to see a little desperation on the ice, because it’s been a rough going in recent days for both clubs. The Sabres and Wild are a combined 0-7-1 in their past eight games, where the Wild have only managed three goals in their four contests, while the Sabres have given up 16 in their respective four losses.

It was a forgone conclusion that this was another rebuilding year for the Sabres, but few could have anticipated a miserable stretch like this for the Wild following a playoff berth where they earned their first series win since 2003. The 0-4-0 run was something no one saw coming in the opening days of the season where Minnesota posted back-to-back shutouts over the Colorado Avalanche.

Similar to the Sabres, one of Minnesota’s glaring weaknesses during this season has been an inept power play. The Wild have scored with the man advantage in just a single game this year, capitalizing on just two of 44 opportunities. The Sabres have only been marginally more successful on the power play, notching three goals on 51 man advantages. The two teams are at the very bottom of the NHL in successful power plays.

For both teams, however, the other end of that deal has been more positive, particularly in Minnesota’s case. The Wild are 7th in the league when it comes to killing off penalties, having managed to foil 38 of their opponents’ 44 power play chances.

Most Sabres fans will already know another connection between the two teams, former Buffalo stars Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. Pominville and Vanek have managed healthy stats through the Wild’s inconsistent start to the season; Pominville has netted four goals and added four assists, while Vanek sits with a goal and eight assists, the latter number the highest among any Wild players.

Puck drop tonight is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST from the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Fans can catch the action on MSG or listen in through WGR 550.

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