Rookie Devon Levi made 32 saves, while Jeff Skinner scored the tiebreaking goal and assisted on the decisive third-period score for the Buffalo Sabres, who beat the visiting Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Friday night.
JJ Peterka also had a goal with an assist for Buffalo, which is riding a 2-0-1 stretch. However, Levi, who entered 2-3-0 with a 3.41 goals-against average, was stout all game for the Sabres.
The score looked to stay tied 1-1 entering the third period after Levi proved stellar in stopping all 14 shots he faced during the second. Highlighted by a sprawling blade save on Minnesota star Kirill Kaprizov, who scored his fifth goal earlier in the game.
Buffalo then took advantage of a Wild turnover to break the tie on just the fourth of its five shots on goal in the second period. Skinner was on a partial breakaway and pushed the puck past Minnesota goaltender Filip Gustavsson (22 saves) with just 58 seconds remaining in the second.
The Sabres extended their lead 3:33 into the third when Peterka capped some nifty passing via Skinner and Tage Thompson, who recorded his 100th career assist. Levi thwarted an up-close chance by Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek moments later.
Eriksson Ek, however, was finally rewarded with 7:33 remaining in regulation with his 100th goal and Minnesota’s second power-play score of the game. Levi, though, saved a liner through traffic from Kaprizov with 13.1 seconds left and survived a post hit by Jared Spurgeon, who was making his season debut from injury for the Wild.
Each team had moments of serious pressure during the first period. Henri Jokiharju’s one-timed drive through traffic and past a screened Gustavsson, who stopped 10 shots through the first 20 minutes, opened the scoring with 1:58 remaining before the initial intermission.
However, Minnesota made the most of a late power play. Off a perfect cross-slot pass from Matt Boldy, Kaprizov went down on one knee to one-time the puck by Levi with 30 seconds left in the opening period.
Minnesota has five points in the last eight games.
–Field Level Media
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