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Wild skate by Sabres

January 3, 2014
Associated Press

By Dave Campbell

AP Sports Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jason Pominville scored another goal against his old team, and the Minnesota Wild beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Thursday night to stop a franchise-record streak of six straight losses in regulation.

Marco Scandella scored, just 106 seconds before Pominville. Jason Zucker had the third goal in the second period against Ryan Miller, one of the three goalies recently picked for the U.S. Olympic team.

The Wild won for the first time since Dec. 17, and Niklas Backstrom picked up a victory for the first time in his last nine starts since Nov. 23. With Josh Harding sitting out with an illness, Backstrom stopped 19 shots.

Miller made 28 saves, not nearly enough for a Sabres team with by far the worst record and fewest goals in the NHL.

They were nearly shut out for the second straight game, following a 3-0 loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday, but Matt Ellis knocked in a loose puck in front of the net with 1:12 left.

The Sabres have not gone without a goal in consecutive games since Oct. 9 and 11, 2003.

The Wild entered the night with the second-lowest scoring average in the league, so naturally the first goal came more than 24½ minutes into the game. Scandella flashed a big smile after he beat defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the slot and turned a pass from Matt Cooke into his first goal in 13 games.

Then Pominville, who had the game-winner in October when these teams met in Buffalo, scored against his former teammate by using a snap shot to sneak the puck between Miller's glove and the post.

Zucker, playing on an all-21-year-old second line with Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund, stretched the lead to 3-0 with his first goal of the season. He was recalled on Wednesday from Iowa of the AHL for the fourth time since Nov. 20.

Ten different Wild players had points, including two assists each for Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu, after coach Mike Yeo shook up his lineup yet again.

"We're throwing a lot of stuff at the wall, and we need something to stick," he said at practice the day before.

Even Kyle Brodziak scored, for the first time in 31 games since Oct. 26. He was awarded the goal with 26 seconds left when he was tripped just past the blue line with an empty net in front of him.

Yeo's job has been put in jeopardy by the skid that began around Thanksgiving and kept up all the way through New Year's Eve. The Wild improved to 6-12-1 in their last 19 games with their first regulation win in 11 games since Dec. 8.

The Sabres already fired their coach, replacing Ron Rolston with Ted Nolan on Nov. 13. The results haven't been much better, though.

They fell to 0-9-2 in their last 11 road games and have only one regulation win away from Buffalo all season.

NOTES: The Sabres lost here for the first time in four games since Dec. 13, 2003. They're 5-2 at Xcel Energy Center since it opened. ... Wild D Keith Ballard was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Sabres RW Drew Stafford left the game with an upper-body injury. LW Ville Leino was scratched because of a lower-body injury.

 
 

 

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