Wild coughs up two-goal lead in 3-2 home loss to Buffalo
The difference on the scoreboard could have been much wider, but it wasnt.
And that opened the door for the Sabres to stay in the hunt amid a spunky effort that only churned out more perseverance the longer the game progressed.
Such is how Wild coach Bruce Boudreau described what he witnessed when he watched Buffalo take on Winnipeg Friday night, a depiction that also ended up applying when the Sabres rolled into Xcel Energy Center Saturday.
This is a team thats believing in themselves, Boudreau said before the game.
Just like the Jets, the Wild surrendered a third-period lead.
But the team wasnt fortunate enough to snag a point like its division rival did in a shootout loss.
Instead, the Sabres completed their comeback in regulation a 3-2 rally in front of 18,947 that handed the Wild its fourth loss in the last 15 games.
Former Wild winger Jason Pominville delivered the decisive blow with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining in the third period, a backhand shot that sailed by goalie Devan Dubnyks right pad.
The goal capped off a strong push from the Sabres, who flipped the script for teams finishing off a back-to-back since they were stronger as play progressed instead of fading.
Early, though, Buffalo looked like it might not have enough energy to keep pace with the Wild, as the home team scored a pair of first-period goals.
The first came just four minutes after puck drop when winger Zach Parise, who missed the 6-2 win over the Canucks Thursday due to illness, scooped up a neutral-zone turnover to charge into Buffalos zone and wire a puck by goaltender Linus Ullmark.
With the tally, Parise became the NHLs all-time leading goal scorer among Minnesota-born players (341).
Soon after, the Wild doubled its lead when defenseman Matt Dumba converted on the power play with a seeing-eye point shot at 7:45.
It was the third straight game in which Dumba scored, a career-high streak, and with eight on the season, Dumba remains second in the NHL in goals by blue liners. His three power-play goals (one more than he scored all last season) are tied for first among defensemen.
Captain Mikko Koivu earned an assist on the setup to continue his torrid pace of late, as it was his sixth point in his last three games and 11th in the past seven.
Overall, the Wilds power play finished 1-for-3 the eighth time over the last 11 games that the unit has capitalized at least one. Buffalo went 0-for-1.
Before the period ended, the Sabres cut their deficit in half when defenseman Jake McCabe one-timed a feed from rookie Rasmus Dahlin by Dubnyk at 14:52.
That didnt seem to discourage the Wild, though, as the team ended the period with an outburst of pressure; the team was outshooting Buffalo 18-9 at intermission an edge that continued to balloon early in the second, pressure that could have easily culminated in more production.
Winger Jason Zucker had one of the better chances, getting sprung for a breakaway on a bank pass off the boards by winger Mikael Granlund. But his backhand attempt was denied by Ullmark, who totaled 37 saves.
Not growing that advantage came back to hurt the Wild.
After Dubnyk made clutch saves in the third on centers Jack Eichel and Johan Larsson, the puck finally eluded him on a Dahlin shot amid a scramble in the crease at 12:58 setting up Pominvilles game-winner.
Dubnyk racked up 26 saves.