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Sabres Aim to Tame Wild in Minnesota

Buffalo continues its road trip in St. Paul looking to win two in a row.

Buffalo Sabres v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 29

Buffalo Sabres (9-15-4) vs. Minnesota Wild (19-8-1)

Puck Drop: 8:00 PM EST | Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul, MN

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Wild Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Know Your Opponent

Minnesota Wild

Record: 19-8-1 | 39 PTS

Last Game: 6-4 loss to Golden Knights (most recently scheduled game against Hurricanes postponed)

Division Ranking: 1st in Central Division

PP: 23rd (17.4%)

PK: 13th (81.0%)

What to Watch

Improved Goaltending

One of Buffalo’s main issues this season has been consistent goalie play, as they have dealt with both injuries and poor performances. After calling up Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from the Amerks recently, the Sabres have only surrendered eight goals in the last four games, with UPL starting in net for all of them. Luukkonen has struggled with Rochester at times this season, but has seemed to have adjusted nicely to NHL play, looking confident in net, while making many great saves in each of the four games he’s played in. If Granato decides to give UPL the nod in net again tonight, it’ll be his fifth straight start for the Sabres. At this rate, with his current success in net, Luukkonen should continue to be Buffalo’s starting goaltender, especially with Anderson and Tokarski out.

Long Time No See

The Sabres haven’t had a game against the Wild since November 19th, 2019 due to the COVID shutdown midway through last season. Not only has Buffalo not played Minnesota in over two years, fans also haven’t had the opportunity to see long-time Sabre, Marcus Foligno, face off against his former team. Foligno has been tremendous to start the season, sharing the lead in goals for the Wild with 13, which also ties his career high. Not only can he score, but Foligno also brings a physical presence to the lineup, something the Sabres have lacked at times since his departure.

Defensive Shuffles

After listing Robert Hagg on the injury report as month-to-month, Buffalo recalled Casey Fitzgerald from Rochester to fill his spot. While Fitzgerald isn’t scheduled to play tonight against Minnesota, he may jump into the lineup as soon as tomorrow night against Pittsburgh, with Colin Miller filling the void against the Wild. Rasmus Dahlin was fantastic Tuesday night against the Jets, scoring two goals and looking the best he has all season. Look for him and the rest of the Sabres defenders to continue building on the confidence they’ve gained over the past few games.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Victor Olofsson

Rasmus Asplund - Zemgus Girgensons - Vinnie Hinostroza

Brett Murray - Dylan Cozens - Kyle Okposo

Mark Jankowski - Cody Eakin - John Hayden

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller

Will Butcher - Mark Pysyk

Starting Goaltender: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (expected)

Minnesota Wild

Forwards

Kirill Kaprizov - Ryan Hartman - Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno

Kevin Fiala - Victor Rask - Frederick Gaudreau

Brandon Duhaime - Nico Sturm - Nick Bjugstad

Defense

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Alex Goligoski - Jared Spurgeon

Jon Merrill - Dmitry Kulikov

Starting Goaltender: Cam Talbot (expected)