BUFFALO, N.Y. - Josh Harding made 43 saves, and Andrew Ebbett, Guillaume Latendresse and Andrew Brunette scored to help the slumping Minnesota Wild beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Friday night.
Harding, making his second straight start for the injured Niklas Backstrom, has won both of his lifetime starts against the Sabres, allowing just three goals combined in those two games. The Wild snapped a four-game winless streak and ended the Sabres' three-game winning streak with their fourth straight victory in Buffalo.
Thomas Vanek scored twice for Buffalo.
Patrick Lalime, starting in place of Ryan Miller, made 30 saves for the Sabres, who begin a five-game trip Saturday in Detroit. The Sabres remained two points ahead of idle Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead.
The Wild struck first when Ebbett's soft wrister from the left circle eluded Lalime along the ice just three minutes in.
Latendresse made it 2-0 with his team-leading 24th of the season. After picking off Lalime's clearing attempt from behind the net, Latendresse skated above the goal-line and slipped the puck in before Lalime could recover.
Brunette made it 3-0 with his 19th with 1:25 to go in the second period. Antti Miettinen lugged the puck down the right wing and into the right circle before lifting a pass to the front of the net, where Brunette was able to whack it in out of the air.
Vanek spoiled Harding's shutout bid with a power-play goal 3:42 into the third period. Standing to the right of Harding in tight, Vanek easily tapped in Derek Roy's cross-ice pass from the right circle.
Vanek, a former University of Minnesota star, cut it to 3-2 with 1:58 left with his team-leading 22nd of the season while the Sabres had an extra attacker.
NOTES: G Wade Dubielewicz was recalled earlier in the day on an emergency basis to replace Backstrom, who injured his groin Thursday morning in Detroit. ... It was the first meeting between the teams in Buffalo since March 2007. ... The Sabres are 10-5-2 against the Western Conference. ... The Wild were without D Brent Burns (hip) and D Shane Hnidy (leg) for the second straight game. ... Harding had an assist on Ebbett's goal. ... Lalime, still in search of his 200th career NHL win, is 3-5-2 this season. ... Minnesota is 3-8-1 in its last 12 road games.