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game recap

Wild defeat Sabres for fourth straight win

Pominville, Coyle deliver in shootout; Dubnyk makes 30 saves

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO - The Minnesota Wild extended their win streak with their first shootout victory of the season Saturday.

Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored in the shootout and Devan Dubnyk stopped three out of four shots to help the Wild to a 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.

Dubnyk made 30 saves for Minnesota (31-25-10), which has won four in a row. Robin Lehner made 28 saves for Buffalo (26-31-9).

Pominville beat Lehner to the glove side in the fourth round of the shootout. 

"At first I was kind of laughing at the boos, but then kind of got focused and actually looked a little bit at what [Coyle] did because he's a righty," Pominville said. "I like to see what righties do; I just kind of changed the angle and it was pretty much the exact same as when he went and I thought there would be room there and I was able to find a hole."

The Wild are 1-2 in shootouts and have won eight of their past 11 games since John Torchetti replaced former coach Mike Yeo on an interim basis.

Video: MIN@BUF: Pominville beats Lehner to secure the win

"Confidence is growing and growing. It shows good when you're winning and we had a little streak going, so it's been good," Coyle said. "We've got to keep this thing going, season's winding down. All the points that we can get here and take one game at a time but we're growing, we're feeling good and that's a good sign."

The Sabres' woes continued in shootouts; they are 1-6 in the breakaway competition.

"I think it's just frustrating with our shootout results so far this year," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "There's a lot of skilled players on this team. I don't think we've been good enough. The shootout's an opportunity to grab an extra point. I think as a group we can bear down and start taking advantage of it."

Koivu's power-play goal tied the game 2-2 with 5:41 left in the third period. After a tripping penalty by Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges, Matt Dumba found Koivu in the slot and he scored his 15th goal of the season with a wrist shot past Lehner. 

"I thought Mikko's goal was huge," Torchetti said. "I thought [Dumba] did a great job with poise and we had that bumper support and that's what opened up the lane. We did a good job and power play tied it up and I thought we did a great job in overtime. Honestly, I had a blast; it was fun."

Video: BUF@MIN: Koivu ties the game on the power play

Ryan Suter extended his assist streak to five games with a secondary assist on Koivu's goal. He has six assists during the streak. 

The Sabres went ahead in the second period when they took advantage of a double-minor against Nino Niederreiter for hig sticking 4:23 into period to overcome an early 1-0 deficit. 

Johan Larsson made it 1-1 5:15 into the second when he put a rebound of Rasmus Ristolainen's point shot past Dubnyk for his fifth goal of the season. 

Eichel made it 2-1 1:23 later with his team-leading 19th goal. Eichel received a pass from Sam Reinhart and snapped a wrist shot past Dubnyk, who was out of position when he tracked the puck to Reinhart from a pass by Cal O'Reilly. Eichel scored the Sabres' only goal in the shootout.

Video: MIN@BUF: Eichel goes top-shelf for a power-play goal

With 44 points, Eichel moved into second in NHL scoring amongst rookies. Eichel and Reinhart (30) are the first two Sabres rookies with 30 or more points since current Wild forwards Thomas Vanek (48) and Pominville (30) did it in 2005-2006. 

"I think we played well too," Eichel said. "We had a lot of chances. We did a lot of good things as a team. It's a tough one to swallow. It's frustrating."

David Jones gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead 2:16 into the first period with his 10th goal and first with the Wild. Jones' wrist shot was stopped by Lehner, but the loose puck bounced off the Ristolainen's skate and past the Sabres goaltender. Jones was acquired in a trade from the Calgary Flames last Monday.

"We weren't getting bounces earlier and now we're finding ways," Pominville said. "[Power play] has been really going well; we've climbed in the standings in that aspect and it got a big goal for us tonight. But winning those games where it's a tight game or you've got to come back to win is something that shows a lot about our team for sure."

Video: Pominville lifts Wild against Sabres in shootout

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