Game recap from Nathan Eide of Hockey Wilderness. Be sure to check out the full game recap for answers to the Five Questions of the Game and get some thoughts on the Sabres.
Tough loss, but being down 2-0 and in a game where they frankly looked like they were going through the motions all night against a team with whom there is no history or animosity on which to build, I guess you take the loser point and go home.
Wild came out of the gate with pace. Clearly, with Ryan Miller our and Jhonas Enroth in, they wanted to get on top early and often. All was going well until a bad Brent Burns turnover to THomas Vanek led to a three on two with Vanek to Steve Montador to Jason Pominville making Burns and Schultz looks out of positi9on and lost. Easy goal for the Sabres and a nice lead.
The rest of the first period was more of the same. decent pressure by the Wild, but the Sabres collapsed well and turned any Wild attack into a nice counter.
Second period started with more of the same, as the Sabres controlled the play by limiting the Wild’s chances. Rob Neidermayer put Buffalo up 2-0 with his first of the season as Jose Theodore left another fat rebound in the slot. The crowd took the 2-0 deficit as a reason to begin booing the hometown club when the Wild were unable to make anything happen with a power play killed by turnovers.
In a game dictacted by turnovers, Brad Staubitz took advantage of a deep Sabres turnover, when he was floating around the neutral zone, took a long headman pass and rifled a centering attempt toward Warren Peters, who buried it for his third career goal. That goal ended a scoreless streak dating back to November of 2009 and 19 games. Yeah, 19 games in 17 months. That pretty much tells the story.
Marek Zidlicky, who has not been a major factor since returning from a grade 3 shoulder separation, fell in open ice after a pass and fanned on a one-timer attempt and fell on a delayed penalty. Let’s be honest, he is likely nowhere near 100%, and whether or not he’s actually helping the team in his current state is debatable. Anyway, he redeemed himself a bit by burying a nice snapshot on a one-timer from Pierre-Marc Bouchard to give the Wild a power play goal. It was a beautiful shot, but doesn’t silence the question about Zidlicky’s health.
The third period was a bit of a chess game, with each side looking to take advantage of the limited opportunities, and being silenced in each and every one. The Sabres collapse when the Wild had numbers better than just about anyone else I’ve seen this season. Every time the Wild came in with numbers, the Sabres defensemen know when to take the shooter and when to break off to cover the passing lanes, and the Wild are stymied. It’s fabulous.
As the third period went on, it appeared more and more that the Wild were content to get to OT and take the loser point. It wasn’t so much that they were outmatched, but they were dropping back into coverage unless they had numbers. It turned into a bit of an up and down game, as each team tried to get the home run shot, but didn’t want to get caught out of position.
OT winner for Drew Stafford. Nice win for Buffalo as Stafford outmuscled Brent Burns for the puck down low and buried it. That was a really nice goal for a highly talented player.