Both the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild are off to middling starts, with each team looking for something positive to build on.
Each tries to rebound from its latest setback when they meet on Friday night in Buffalo.
Buffalo went 3-5-0 before finally winning back-to-back games on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1. That began the Sabres’ current 3-1-1 stretch, which most recently featured a 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina on Tuesday.
Twice the Sabres erased one-goal deficits, only to fall in the extra session against an expected Stanley Cup contender.
“I thought our guys responded very well to (the playoff-like atmosphere in Carolina) to the point that there’s a bitter taste in their mouth,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “They know they can play even better. … There’s plenty of good things and also plenty of things we can make adjustments on.”
Like a power play that’s converting just 12.8 percent of its chances, even with a goal in each of the last two after going 0-for-9 in the previous four.
Meanwhile, key Buffalo contributors Alex Tuch, Dylan Cozens and goaltender Eric Comrie are all nicked up and uncertain in terms of immediate availability. That might mean 2022 ninth overall pick Matt Savoie could make his NHL debut for the Sabres on Friday.
With an assist Tuesday, Buffalo star Tage Thompson has totaled 10 of his 11 points in the last seven games. Thompson, though, owns just one goal and one assist in seven career games vs. Minnesota.
The Sabres’ Jordan Greenway, who came over from Minnesota last season and has two goals and four assists this season, will face his old team for the first time.
Buffalo’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (3.10 goals-against average) made 24 saves on Tuesday against Carolina. Meanwhile, teammate Devon Levi has a 3.34 GAA in three home starts.
The Wild had won two in a row for the first time this season before falling 4-1 at the New York Rangers on Thursday. Brandon Duhaime’s third goal tied things just past the midway mark of the second period, but Minnesota allowed three third-period goals en route to its fifth loss in seven games.
For the fourth time in seven games, Minnesota star Kirill Kaprizov was held without a point. He has totaled just three of his 12 points during that stretch.
Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in falling to 2-3-1 with a 3.02 GAA as a starter this season. However, in this back-to-back scenario, teammate Filip Gustavsson could make his first start since Nov. 4, when he was pulled for allowing three goals on four shots by the Rangers.
Since opening his season with a 41-save performance during a 2-0 win over Florida, Gustavsson has yielded 30 goals in six starts.
The Wild have totaled 12 goals during their current 1-3-1 stretch on the road, where a three-game trek through the state of New York ends at Buffalo.
“It’s a quick turnover (with a game Friday),” rookie Minnesota defenseman Daemon Hunt told Bally Sports North. “Resetting. Better start. That will be a key for us.”
–Field Level Media
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