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After big win at Philly, Sabres head to Minnesota

by Brian Compton
SABRES (31-25-8) at WILD (34-25-6)

TV -- MSG-Buffalo, KSTC.

Last 10 -- Buffalo 5-3-2; Minnesota 4-5-1.

Season series -- This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on March 12, 2010, when Minnesota earned a 3-2 victory at Buffalo.

Big story -- It's a huge game for both teams, as the Sabres and Wild continue to fight for their playoff lives each and every day. The Sabres moved within a point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 5-3 win at Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, while the Wild are also just a point away from a playoff spot in the West.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- Jason Pominville scored to break a 3-3 tie in the third period and the Sabres held on for a victory against the Flyers that gave them 70 points, one behind eighth-place Carolina, who was idle. Brad Boyes also had a pair of assists for the Sabres, while Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Andrej Sekera and Nathan Gerbe all had goals.

"If you're going to gain some ground and get in the picture, we're going to have to play well," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought the last 40 minutes our compete level was a little bit better than the Flyers."

Wild -- Minnesota avoided a three-game losing streak on Thursday night when it earned a 3-1 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Casey Wellman, recalled from the minors just hours before the game, broke a second-period tie with his second NHL goal and Jose Theodore made 40 saves for the Wild.

"We haven't really played our best hockey the last couple of games," center Kyle Brodziak said. "We dropped down a few spots in the standings, and maybe it was a little bit of pressure. It was a must-win. We go into every game like it's a must-win. We were very disappointed after (Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Islanders). We had to stop the slide for sure. Thankfully we did."

Who's hot -- Brad Boyes has two goals and two assists in three games since joining the Sabres via trade from St. Louis. … Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard has four points in his last four games.

Injury report -- Buffalo forward Derek Roy is out for the season due to a quad tear that required surgery. … Minnesota will be without Mikko Koivu (broken finger), Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (groin), Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) and James Sheppard (knee).

Stat pack -- Minnesota is 15-3-2 when Bouchard has a point and 7-0-1 when he scores a goal.

Puck drop -- "Every game is big for us. Philly has lost the last few games, so we expected them to come out hard which they did, but we came through." -- Sabres forward Thomas Vanek after Saturday's 5-3 win at Philadelphia
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