Coach Bruce Boudreau could sense trouble.
Although the Wild jumped out to an early two-goal lead, the team failed to extend it.
Or reinstate it once the Sabres cut it in half.
And since he had just watched a similar script play out the night before when Buffalo polished off its comeback over the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout, Boudreau was familiar with how this could end.
“That’s exactly what I saw happen to Winnipeg,” he said. “Only Winnipeg gets a point out of it.”
The Wild wasn’t as fortunate, as the Sabres completed their second rally in as many nights late in the third period — a 3-2 result Saturday in front of 18,947 at Xcel Energy Center that dealt the Wild just its fourth loss in 15 games.
“You’ve got a lead [with] seven minutes to go,” Boudreau said, “you got to get something out of that.”
Instead of fading as the game progressed, the Sabres only got better.
They produced the tying goal 12 minutes, 58 seconds into the third when rookie Rasmus Dahlin pounced on a loose puck in the crease that goalie Devan Dubnyk almost covered up.
“It took kind of a bad bounce off my blocker and then up off our guy in front there and dropped, and I lost sight of it so I thought it was under my hand,” said Dubnyk, who posted 26 saves. “That’s how it goes sometimes. That’s why you get pucks to the net.”
With 1:30 remaining, Buffalo delivered the decisive blow — a backhander from former Wild winger Jason Pominville.
“We should have buried them in the second,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “ … We just let them hang around.”
The Wild had ample opportunity to pull away from the Sabres in the first and second periods.
Only four minutes after puck drop, winger Zach Parise scooped up a neutral-zone turnover to charge into Buffalo’s zone and wire a puck by goaltender Linus Ullmark.
With the tally, Parise became the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer among Minnesota-born players (341).
Soon after, the Wild doubled its lead when 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.
Overall, the Wild’s power play finished 1-for-3; the Sabres went 0-for-1.
“When you get a lead early, you definitely think you’re going to catch that groove and hopefully fill it up,” Dumba said.
Before the period ended, the Sabres made it 2-1 on a one-timer from defenseman Jake McCabe at 14:52.
But the Wild had a flurry of shots after that in a bid to grow its cushion. 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.
Zucker, Granlund and center Eric Staal combined for eight shots.
“We just didn’t execute and get it done,” Staal said. “When you do that, we gave them a little hope and life and they were able to obviously capitalize on the couple looks they had.”
Dubnyk made six saves in the third, including two clutch ones on centers Jack Eichel and Johan Larsson, before the Sabres finally tied it — paving the way for Pominville’s clincher.
“You just had that bad feeling that they were going to hang around long enough if we didn’t get that third one, and they did,” Parise said. “It’s disappointing to not get out of there with a point at least.”