ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – The first period turned out to be a crazy affair Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center with an outburst of scoring coming early.
Nino Neiderreiter recoded a hat trick and the Minnesota Wild scored two power-play goals to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-3.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Zemgus Girgensons and Torrey Mitchell scored for Buffalo.
The two teams combined for six goals with three of the goals scored in a span of 17 seconds in the first period, the fastest three goals in a game ever for both teams.
“It was pretty wild,” Zemgus Girgensons, who scored for Buffalo during that sequence said. “You don’t get to see that often but it’s hockey. That’s why when it was 4-2, you can’t give up. You can score that many goals in that short a period of time. We just had to keep after that.”
The previous record in Sabres history was 18 seconds, which happened on Feb. 1, 1976 at California.
The NHL record is three goals in 15 seconds, held by the New York Rangers who did it on Feb. 10, 1983 at the Minnesota North Stars’ home rink.
The Sabres opened the scoring when Ristolainen got his first of the season 1:03 into the game on a shot from the right point.
To start the quick exchanging of goals, Ryan Carter tallied 6:07 into period to tie the game, crosschecking a deflected puck into the net behind Jhonas Enroth.
Then seven seconds later, Minnesota went up 2-0 when Niederreiter tallied. Then off the faceoff at center ice, Girgensons raced down the ice and scored top shelf on a breakaway to make it 3-1just 10 seconds after that last goal.
The Wild ended up skating out of the first with a 4-2 lead.
“They score again and we didn’t respond to it. We’re running around all over the place in our end,” Mitchell said. “It was 2-2 but we weren’t mentally engaged from the start of the game. They took it to us.
We can’t come out and play like that and expect a result. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, if you’re not mentally focused and mentally prepared, this will keep happening.”
Enroth made 32 saves for Buffalo. Ristolainen and his defensive partner Nikita Zadorov were among the team leaders in ice time. Zadorov led the way with 25:17 followed by Myers (24:07) and Ristolainen (24:06).
“With our team, we need more than spurts and we need great goaltending every night and we need three or four lines going every night,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “We need six defensemen going every night. In a game like tonight, we had maybe one line and two defensemen going. Those two kids [Ristolainen and Zadorov] were sensational again tonight.”
Buffalo’s play in their own defensive zone was a source of many of the team’s problems against Minnesota. Girgensons knows they have to improve there if they want a chance at two points. Buffalo is 0-4-1 in its past five games.
“Our D-zone coverage is terrible right now,” Girgensons said. “We’re puck staring, chasing, not winning battles. We just spend too much time in our D zone and that’s why our goals for in a game is what we have – point-something – because we’re too tired to attack.”
Patrick Kaleta played in his first NHL regular-season game since Oct. 10, 2013. After being waived by the team last season, his tore his ACL while playing with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Nov. 29, 2013 and missed the rest of the season.
His return this year was delayed when he had to recover from facial surgery after taking a slap shot to the upper jaw in a preseason game on Sept. 28.
He played 8:06, was a minus-2 and was credited with one hit.
The Sabres will practice on Friday at First Niagara Center as they prepare to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at home Saturday night.
“It’s tough times and we just have to learn and tomorrow have a good practice,” Ristolainen said. “Then, Saturday, have a great game and take those two points.”