ST. PAUL, Minn. - Owen Nolan and Antti Miettinen scored their first goals of the pre-season and the Minnesota Wild built an early lead and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Minnesota (4-1-0) scored on three of its five shots in the first period. After Nolan and Miettinen - both off-season free agent signees - built a 2-0 lead, defenceman Brent Burns was credited with a short-handed goal when his cross-ice pass was inadvertently swatted into the net by Sabres defenceman Teppo Numminen.
"We batted one in ourselves. We didn't make many mistakes, but every mistake we made went in," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "But we still made the mistakes. We took some needless penalties and gave the opposition a little bit of life."
Daniel Paille scored in the second period for Buffalo (1-3-1). After a long lead pass from Toni Lydman, Paille's rising shot beat goaltender Josh Harding over the right shoulder.
"We played an exceptional game in the neutral zone against them, and we had to," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We were really good at pressing the puck carrier as much as we could."
Harding, who had 25 saves, left the game in the third period after a fluke accident in front of the Minnesota net. Buffalo's Dylan Hunter lifted the stick of Wild defenceman Martin Skoula in the crease, causing Skolua's blade to enter the eye hole of Harding's mask. Harding immediately dropped to the ice and was helped off by a trainer.
"I think the tip of the blade went through his mask and hit him in the eye," Lemaire said. "I don't know his condition right now."
Nicklas Backstrom finished the game in goal for Minnesota, stopping five of the six shots he faced.
Buffalo's Andrej Sekera added a power-play goal with less than a second left in the game.
Ryan Miller had 21 saves for the Sabres.