When a team goes up 3-0 in the first period like the Sabres did on Tuesday night, you’d think the game is for the most part, over. Good teams will find a way to finish off the opponent.
Minnesota was able to hang around all game long, and the Sabres allowed them to. It was a good first period for Buffalo, though. They’ve had better periods than that where they haven’t scored, so it was nice to see that work paid off this time.
“We’ve probably played our best in the first period and not gotten the goals,” Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. “The last two games, it’s been the opposite. We’ve played well in the first and we’ve gotten the goals to go in. It’s been nice for us to get out in front and play from in front.”
But the team that showed up in the opening period was not the same one that came out in the next. Minnesota controlled the play and had more scoring chances. It was as if the Sabres went up 3-0, and decided to play defense for the rest of the game. One more goal or two and it would’ve been a done deal.
Instead, after Thomas Vanek took a goaltender interference penalty, it was the Wild that scored. A lucky bounce went off Linus Ullmark and into the net, and Minnesota had life again.
Ullmark was the reason the Sabres didn’t surrender a three goal lead, or lose the game for that matter. He was there to stop Vanek numerous times, and came up big all night. With Robin Lehner days away from returning, Ullmark is making a case to stay with the team. Chad Johnson was expected to stay up, but Buffalo may have a tough time sending one of them down to Rochester.
“You always want to go out there and win games,” Ullmark said. “It doesn’t matter if you are the backup goalie or the starting goalie; you just want to get out there and help the boys win games. That’s the most important thing here.”
It was nice to see the Sabres defense step up at one point. Minnesota had a pair of odd-man rushes, one of them being Pominville and Vanek. However, both times either Josh Gorges or Zach Bogosian was there to break up the play.
The win gives Buffalo two in a row, and while it’s not much, it’s a strong start to the second half of the season. We’ll see if they can keep it going this weekend when they host Boston and Washington.