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Sabres Domesticate The Wild

Buffalo has back to back wins against Central Division opponents

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Score: Sabres 3 | Wild 2 (SO)

Shots: BUF 40 | Wild 32

Buffalo Sabres Goals:

1) Cozens (Jokiharju)

2) Pysyk (Hinostroza, Jankowski)

3) Thompson (Shootout)

Minnesota Wild Goals:

1) Merrill (Kulikov, Hartman)

2) Kaprizov (Spurgeon, Goligoski)

Plus 1: Captain Kyle Charges Forward

Okposo has had a renaissance year and Thursday was no exception. His pure heart and desire have clearly inspired his teammates as their entire team’s nightly effort has been more consistent than any recent season. He’s certainly not known for his footspeed, but he was strong on the puck and even pulled away from some defenders with surprising transition speed. He nearly won the game in OT with a strong drive to the net. He may not wear the “C” on his jersey, but he’s certainly heartbeat of this team. He is a perfect role model to be playing on a line with potential future captain Dylan Cozens.

Minus 1: Leaks Nearly Sink the Ship

UPL has played very well for the Sabres this year, but his 5th straight start had some down moments. Minnesota’s two goals dribbled into the net as Luukkonen got most of the puck but not enough. The Wild nearly had another one squeak by, but Collin Miller was able to bail out UPL before the biscuit ended up in the basket. However, it was another solid 30 save night in net for the 22-year-old rookie who showed off his athleticism as he continues to refine the rougher edges of his game. He was absolutely outstanding late in the game to seal his second straight win.

Plus 2: Pysyk Makes His Mark

Known for his solid defensive game, it was only a matter of time before Mark Pysyk found the back of the net. Utilizing his experience playing forward for Florida, Pysyk tied the game up midway through the third period. A great pass by Hinostroza led to an even better finish by Pysyk who snuck in behind his defender on the weakside and blasted a forehand one-timer past Talbot. Adams should sign this man to an extension before he reveals any goaltending skill to go along with his offensive and defensive prowess.

Final Thoughts

This was a great showing by this young Sabres team. The Wild have been the surprise of the Central and are dominant at home. Even after they tied it up, Buffalo kept pushing to win the game, instead of playing not to lose as they have in the past. Mistakes will happen, like the sloppy play that led to Merrill’s goal, but the team fought hard and played one of their best games of the season. A very encouraging sign for Sabres fans looking for reasons to believe in the team’s future.