ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With a lineup full of players likely bound for Rochester this season, the Sabres were blown out in their penultimate preseason game, 6-1, on the road in Minnesota.
The Wild used their final preseason game as a dry run for the regular season, fielding many of their regulars. That experience was evident, as Minnesota dominated the puck throughout the game and out-shot Buffalo by a commanding 42-11 margin.
The Sabres lineup included many guys hoping to make one last impression on head coach Dan Bylsma in hopes of making the opening night roster. None more so than forward Patrick Kaleta, who was put on the top line alongside Marcus Foligno and Zemgus Girgensons. It was Kaleta's first appearance of the preseason after battling a groin injury throughout camp, but his audition didn't last long. After just 2:06 of ice time, the Angola, N.Y., native left early in the first period with a lower body injury and did not return, likely ending any slim chance he had of breaking camp with the NHL club.
Overall, Buffalo was out-matched against a veteran Minnesota lineup that included its top nine forwards, top six defensemen, and starting goaltender. The lone Sabres highlight on the night came from forward Tim Schaller, who scored Buffalo's only goal off of a turnover late in the second period after the Wild had already built a 4-0 lead.
Chad Johnson played the full 60 minutes between the pipes and made 36 saves in the loss.
It's hard to take much away from a game like this, as the Sabres spent pretty much the entire game defending their zone. Buffalo's defense was sloppy in front of its goal at times, which led to a couple of goals against and will need to be cleaned up. For what it's worth, though, I thought defensemen Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk held up well against the Wild's onslaught of chances.
The Sabres close out the preseason tomorrow night at home against Columbus. Bylsma said after tonight's game that tomorrow's lineup will look "very close" to the one we will see on opening night.