September 21, 2005
by Brian Wheeler
Despite jumping out to a three-goal lead in the first period, the Buffalo Sabres were defeated by the Minnesota Wild 6-3 Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota scored six-consecutive goals in the second and third periods to hand the Sabres their first exhibition loss of the season.
"We started off the game skating well," stated Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere. "We skated hard on the puck and it made a big difference. The last two periods, we stopped skating and they kept coming forward."
Buffalo's power play unit converted two of three opportunities in the opening period of play but stalled in the final two-thirds of the game, finishing just two of 11 on the man-advantage.
"We created a lot of scoring chances early on," stated rookie Thomas Vanek. "After the first, we found ourselves in a hole that we weren't able to dig out of."
Buffalo's top line of JP Dumont, Briere and Vanek scored both power play goals and has now recorded 10 points in two preseason games.
Briere netted his first goal of the game and the preseason at 11:16 after redirecting a Vanek pass past Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez to extend the Sabres lead to two goals.
The Gatineau, Quebec native struck again with only nine seconds remaining in the first, slapping in a Dumont rebound to give Buffalo the 3-0 lead.
Dumont, who finished with two assists, returned to action following a three-day layoff after sustaining a head injury during Buffalo's night practice last Thursday.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Vanek, who appeared in 83 games for the University of Minnesota during his collegiate career. In that span, he registered 57 goals and 56 points for 113 points.
"It was a lot of fun playing in front of friends and family," said Vanek. "This was my home for two years and it's always special to come back."
Jeff Jillson opened the scoring for Buffalo at 4:38 in the first, snapping a wrist shot past Fernandez off a face-off. Jiri Novotny and Chris Thorburn were credited with the assists.
After stopping all 10 of Minnesota's shots in the opening period, Mika Noronen allowed six goals on 19 shots in the remainder of the game. Noronen finished with 23 saves.
The Wild was led by right wing Kyle Wanvig, who scored a pair of goals, and Dupuis, who was credited with a goal and three assists. Fernandez made 26 saves in the winning effort.
Buffalo now moves to 2-1-0-0 in exhibition play and travels to Washington to face the Capitals at 7:00 PM on Wednesday.