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Minnesota Wild snap losing skid with big second period

The Minnesota Wild defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Minnesota Wild defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild got back in the win column with a 4-1 decision over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild took the game over in the second period to build a 3-0 lead with a 15-5 edge in shots on goal for the period. The momentum carried through the final 20 minutes for the decisive victory.

The Wild’s dominance in the second period prompted Sabres head coach Ted Nolan to stay out of the locker room during the second intermission and wait it out.

“Sometimes when you have nothing good to say, it is better to say nothing all,” Nolan said about saying nothing to his team. “They know how bad they played. Sometimes you might say something that you will regret.”

Marco Scandella got the scoring started with a slick give-and-go with Matt Cooke. Scandella took a pass at center from Justin Fontaine and sent the puck Cooke along the boards at the blue line. Cooke feathered a pass past Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk to send Scandella in all alone. He snapped a shot under the arm of Ryan Miller for his second goal of the season.

Jason Pominville scored his second career goal - both game-winners - against the Sabres in his second game against his former club on a short side. He received a cross ice pass from Mikko Koivu at the top of the circles and caught Miller slow to get across the crease.

“I was fortunate to get the winner,” Pominville said about scoring tonight’s game-winning goal. “We ended up giving one late. Obviously it is nice to get one, even more so against (Miller). We are good friends and had a lot of good years together.”

Jason Zucker got his first goal of the season with a wrist shot just under the cross bar on a 2-on-1 rush. He cleanly beat Miller with Jared Spurgeon charging down the off-wing to occupy the defender.

“It is always nice to score and anyway I can contribute is good,” Zucker said.

The Sabres (11-26-4) avoided the shutout when Matt Ellis knocked a loose puck into the wide open net next to Niklas Backstrom with a delayed penalty on the Wild.

The Wild (21-17-5) capped the scoring when Kyle Brodziak was tripped by Christian Ehrhoff as he was about to get a breakaway on an empty net. Brodziak did not get a shot off, but referee Chris Lee awarded him the goal due to the penalty.

The Wild return to action Saturday against the Washington Capitals at the Xcel Energy Center.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Niklas Backstrom. The Wild goaltender stopped 19 shots.

No. 2 - Mikko Koivu. The Wild forward recorded two assists.

No. 1 - Jason Pominville. The Wild forward scored a goal.

Boxscore

Buffalo………0 0 1 - 1

Minnesota…...0 3 1 - 4

First Period - None. Penalties - Suter, MIN (cross checking), 6:20; Scandella, MIN (tripping), 9:47; Pysyk, BUF (hooking), 16:30; Moulson, BUF (roughing), 20:00; Prosser, MIN (roughing), 20:00.

Second Period - 1, Minnesota, Scandella 2 (Cooke, Fontaine), 4:33. 2, Minnesota, Pominville 18 (Koivu, Suter), 6:19. 3, Minnesota, Zucker 1 (Niederreiter, Granlund), 16:09. Penalties - Foligno, BUF (roughing), 6:31; Bench, MIN (too many men; served by Heatley), 12:07; McBain, BUF (interference), 18:43.

Third Period - 4, Buffalo, Ellis 2 (Weber, Ennis), 18:48. 5, Minnesota, Brodziak 3 (Suter, Koivu), 19:34 (en). Penalties - Stoner, MIN (interference), 2:09; Scott, BUF (roughing), 4:45; Scott, BUF (roughing; served by Omark), 4:45; Stoner, MIN (roughing), 4:45.

Shots on goal - Buffalo 7-5-8 20. Minnesota 8-15-8 31.

Goalies - Buffalo, Miller (28-31). Minnesota, Backstrom (19-20). Referees - Darcy Burchell, Chris Lee. Linesmen - Don Henderson, David Brisebois.