'Desperate' Sabres prevail over Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 25, 2012 - 1:06 AM

Buffalo improved its playoff status by beating the Wild as the teams continued on opposite bearings.

hide

Wild captain Mikko Koivu deflected the puck as Buffalo's Christian Ehroff and goaltender Ryan Miller defended on Saturday night.

Photo: Gary Wiepert, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thanks to the Wild, if the season ended today, the Buffalo Sabres would make the playoffs.

With a 3-1 victory over Minnesota at First Niagara Center on Saturday night, the Sabres moved into the top eight in the Eastern Conference for the first time since Dec. 19.

That's two days after the Wild fell from the tippy-top of the NHL standings, meaning the Sabres' upswing has been about as astonishing as the Wild's downswing.

On Jan. 23, the Sabres were 21 points behind Boston in the Northeast Division. They're now five points back. On Feb. 17, they were last in the East. But in the past 28 games, they're 18-5-5 and Saturday leaped over Washington, the Wild's Sunday opponent, into the playoff bubble.

The Wild, on the other hand, is nearing mathematical postseason elimination in the West for a fourth consecutive season and sixth time in eight seasons after going 11-26-7 since Dec. 13.

"They're playing really good hockey. They're playing desperate," Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert said of the Sabres. "It's do or die. If they lose a game, they could be out of the playoffs. We wanted to be a good spoiler for them.

"Washington's in the exact same spot, so we have to be little better in trying to beat another team going for a playoff spot."

The Wild will have to do that without center Matt Cullen, who might be lost for the season after saying he broke his right index finger when struck by a Christian Ehrhoff shot with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Wild will recall forward Chad Rau on Sunday.

After the first period Saturday, the Wild looked well on its way to winning a third consecutive game for the first time since winning seven in a row from Nov. 28-Dec. 10 (aka precursor to the wheels falling off this season).

It forced turnovers, attacked with speed, got pucks deep, made tape-to-tape passes, shot from everywhere and jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Steve Kampfer buried Kyle Brodziak's pass off a 2-on-1.

But, Brodziak said, "When the execution started going south, it definitely gave them the momentum."

The Wild took 16 shots in the first -- nine in the first 6:51. It would take nine in the final two periods -- the lowest total Buffalo's allowed in the final 40 minutes this season.

The Sabres looked like a different team immediately to start the second and tied the score after Nate Prosser's turnover when three forwards crashed the net and Thomas Vanek scored on a rebound 72 seconds in.

"They were trying to cram three guys down low and get in on the forecheck," Kampfer said. "That's the strength of their team. Their guys are gritty. They want to get down low. It was a challenge for the D to box them out.

"It's probably the first time I've seen three guys below the top of the circles like that consistently."

Josh Harding made 16 saves in the period to help the Wild escape 1-1, but Darroll Powe held ex-Flyers teammate Ville Leino 53 seconds into the third and Marcus Foligno deflected Tyler Myers' shot on the power play. Cody Hodgson later scored a buzzer-beating empty-netter.

"We weren't willing to stay with our game," coach Mike Yeo said. "... This is where you have one, two bad shifts in a row, you need somebody to go out there and set it straight."

  • BUFFALO 3, WILD 1

    Up next: 4 p.m. today at Washington • TV: NBC Sports Network (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close