By Chip Scoggins
BUFFALO -- The Wild certainly looked like a different team Friday night than the one that lost 5-1 at Detroit 24 hours earlier.
The mood in the dressing room also was 180 degrees different after the Wild finished its road back-to-back on a positive note with a 3-2 victory against the Sabres.
"You have to find a way to win games and the guys really came together and found a way to win the game," coach Todd Richards said.
It started with goalie Josh Harding, who looked far more comfortable and on top of things with 43 saves in his second straight start.
After allowing three first-period goals at Detroit, Harding shut down the Sabres for two periods before Thomas Vanek scored twice in the third.
Harding was very critical of himself after the Detroit game, which he said motivated him to elevate his game against Buffalo.
"[Against Detroit] I was brutal,” Harding said. “To a man, I thought I owed this team a great effort. I hope they kind of realized that. It was an all-around team win. Everybody played great.”
"I didn't play in a month before that game in Detroit," he added. "I knew it was going to be a little shaky. Maybe I didn't expect that shaky."
Speaking of shaky, Buffalo's backup goalie Patrick Lalime was awful in the first period and the Sabres fans let him hear it. With Ryan Miller getting the night off, Lalime received the Bronx cheers almost every time he touched the puck after allowing goals by Andrew Ebbett and Guillaume Latendresse in the first period.
“We haven’t been scoring a lot lately,” Ebbett said. “We talked before the game about just throwing pucks at the net. Lalime hasn’t been in much action this year so just see what he has at the start.”
Richards was very pleased with his team's collective effort, especially coming on the heels of a bad performance at Detroit.
“The mood [Friday morning] wasn’t great,” Richards said. “I think everybody shares the same feelings of frustration and disappointment. The way that we have to win and move forward here is we have to do it as a group of five out on the ice.”
Richards singled out a number of players who made meaningful contributions, including Owen Nolan, who fought Steve Montador in the first period.
"When you're wondering how the guys are going to come out and how the battle level is going to be and you have the oldest guy on your team, your real warrior, standing up for himself out on the ice with another tough guy, it's tough not to follow that," Richards said. "I was impressed with Owen and what he did."