ICYMI: Wild 3, Sabres 2 (SO)

ICYMI

Although they played a strong game, the Buffalo Sabres were unable to pull out a victory Saturday afternoon at First Niagara Center, losing to the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout.

It didn’t take long for Minnesota to get on the board, as David Jones scored his first goal as a member of the Minnesota Wild just 2:16 into the game. His initial shot would go off the side of the Buffalo net and into the crease of Robin Lehner, only to deflect off of the skate of Rasmus Ristolainen and into the back of the net, giving Minnesota the lead early on.

The Sabres would take advantage of a four minute power play in the opening minutes of the second period after a Nino Niederreiter high stick on Jake McCabe drew blood. Johan Larsson would tie the game at one shorty into the power play with his fifth goal of the season, putting the rebound past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk after the former Vezina Trophy-finalist had initially stopped Rasmus Ristolainen’s shot from the point. Larsson’s goal against the Wild marks his first career point against the team that drafted him in 2010.

Buffalo’s special teams success would continue after Larsson’s goal, as Jack Eichel gave Buffalo the lead just minutes after Larsson tied the game at one. A beautiful passing play involving Rasmus Ristolainen, Cal O’Reilly, and Sam Reinhart resulted in Eichel blasting the puck past a confused Dubnyk, giving Eichel his team leading 19th goal of the season and his second point of the game.

The Sabres would keep the lead until the 5:41 mark of the third period, when Mikko Koivu tied the game at two just 34 seconds into a Minnesota power play following a Josh Gorges tripping penalty. Wild defenseman Matthew Dumba was able to find Koivu all alone in front of the net, and the 11-year veteran knew exactly what to do with the puck, shooting it past Lehner to score his 15th of the season. Koivu’s goal would prove to be the final goal of regulation, and the game would go into overtime with the score tied at two.

The overtime period would come and go, but not without controversy. A fanned shot by Matthew Dumba resulted in a pass from Ristolainen to send Evander Kane on a breakaway. Kane would shoot it right at the pads of Dubnyk, who would be unable to cover the puck, but the referee called for the whistle anyway. This resulted in boos from the crowd, but ultimately didn’t have a huge impact on the game, as the overtime period ended without a goal scored.

Jack Eichel would get the shootout started with a goal, his first career goal in the shootout. This would prove to be the only Sabres goal in the shootout however, as goals from Charlie Coyle and former Sabre Jason Pominville would secure the two points for the Wild.

One of the biggest stories coming out of this game is the developing chemistry between Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Eichel set up three or four scoring opportunities for Kane, who nearly scored on most of them. Although they weren’t able to capitalize Saturday afternoon, it’s nice to see that there is definitely something brewing between Eichel and Kane, two players that fans hope to see develop into stars in the coming years.

Zach Bogosian quietly played a strong game, leading the time in ice time with nearly 28 minutes played. Bogosian finished the game with two hits, two blocked shots, and three shots of his own.

Although they have only won one out of their previous three games, this is the third consecutive game that the Sabres have picked up at least one point. The next time Buffalo takes the ice will be Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, when the Sabres take on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time this season.

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