Mike Yeo was anxious to see Thursday’s exhibition finale from the Wild.
After all, the Buffalo Sabres hardly brought their “A” squad and the Wild may have been more interested in sleepwalking in order to escape injury-free.
But the Wild coach said before the game, “I would like to see us treat it a little more seriously than that given we have a [week] between now and our season opener.”
Like it did to the Winnipeg Jets’ less-than-inspiring lineup Sunday, the Wild ended up skating circles around the undermanned Sabres to end the preseason with a 6-1 victory and 4-2 record.
“Two different teams at two different levels,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “We got outcompeted at pretty much every turn.”
Jason Zucker and rookie Tyler Graovac, with final roster cuts looming, each had a goal and assist. Zach Parise scored a power-play goal, Nino Niederreiter scored his third goal of the preseason and Zac Dalpe and Thomas Vanek each scored their first. Mikko Koivu had two assists. Charlie Coyle, outstanding all preseason with a league-leading seven assists, had another two, including a highlight-reel drive into the zone to set up Graovac.
“I actually put a goal in an empty net for once,” said Graovac, whom Yeo said helped his cause toward making the opening night roster.
Devan Dubnyk faced only 11 shots as the Wild, which scored 22 goals in six exhibition games, outshot Buffalo 42-11. In nine periods of preseason action, Dubnyk faced only 54 shots in three victories.
“Not much I can do about that,” said Dubnyk, who would have loved to face some more shots. “There’s nothing I can do about the shots I faced in the preseason, so I’m not going to think about it after tonight other than that was not overly entertaining to stand back there.”
Yeo said, “I think that he looks ready. I think that our whole group looks ready.”
Now, the Wild will have to keep from getting rusty during six days off before Thursday’s opener at Colorado. The Wild will practice Friday, take Saturday off, practice Sunday, have an off-ice workout Monday and practice Tuesday and Wednesday before flying to Denver.
“I think it’s been a good camp and we feel like we’re ready, and now we have to make sure we use this week properly,” Yeo said.
Defenseman Mike Reilly was scratched along with Nate Prosser and likely waiver-bound Tyson Strachan. Reilly is not in the Wild’s top six or on the power play.
But GM Chuck Fletcher said that doesn’t “necessarily” mean Reilly, a first-year pro, will start the season in Iowa.
“We did last year with [Matt] Dumba and [Christian] Folin at times where we had those players with the NHL roster,” Fletcher said. “They weren’t playing every night, but they were learning and watching and practicing, and then at times they needed the game reps [and were sent to Iowa].”
• With center Erik Haula day-to-day because of a groin injury, the Wild recalled Dalpe from Iowa to play Thursday. Dalpe, who had a strong preseason, impressed again. He can skate, is strong defensively and may start the season with the Wild if Haula isn’t ready for Thursday’s opener. Dalpe said he was in a groove because he played in Iowa’s green-white scrimmage Wednesday. “It’s always an incentive when you go down and you’re the first guy to get called up,” he said.
• Defenseman Marco Scandella returned from Montreal where he has been tending to a family matter and played alongside Folin.