Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
It’s amazing what two points can do for a team. The bus ride to the airport is filled with laughs. The flight home is relaxed and filled with barbs directed at Wild PR guru, Ryan Stanzel. And most importantly, there is new life, and a new outlook.
The Wild locker room at HSBC was awfully quiet at today’s morning skate, just 12 hours after the team succumbed to the Detroit Red Wings. But after a solid 3-2 road victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the Wild has two games upcoming at Xcel Energy Center against St. Louis and Edmonton. The fore-check was there all night, bodies were flying everywhere, and the guys got nasty. Owen Nolan was involved in a ferocious brawl, and Wild players looked like the aggressors most of the night, taking a few extra shots at Sabre players in the corners and after whistles.
The bottom line is this season is far from over, and tonight’s win is a potential catalyst.
Several Wild players stepped up in this one, but nobody more than Josh Harding
. Harding was spectacular in this game, and his performance is even more impressive coming off a rough night 24 hours before against the Wings. Harding finished the game with 43 saves, and he was at his best in the third when the Sabres were relentlessly trying to come back. He did give up both goals in the third, but he held the Sabres off long enough to make their second goal but a glimmer of hope.
Then there was the goaltender on the other end: Patrick Lalime. I know I felt a bit cheated when I heard that he would get the start in place of Ryan Miller. But my feelings were nothing in comparison to how the raucous Sabre fans felt. Lalime didn’t help his cause by giving up a weak first goal to Andrew Ebbett, and then turning the puck over to lead to Guillaume Latendresse
scoring the second.
But mercy! Those fans were letting him have it all game long. Anytime a dump-in went on net, the crowd roared in mock approval. It wasn’t a one-time thing either. It kept up all game, even though Lalime found his game and made some brilliant saves to keep Buffalo in the game during the second period. I guess when you’ve got an overnight folk hero like Miller at your disposal, it doesn’t matter if it’s Patrick Lalime or Patrick Roy; neither is going to cut the mustard.
Here’s an impressive tidbit for you stat heads and Latendresse lovers out there. With his goal tonight, G-Lat snapped a two-game goal-less skid. I thought this was a misprint when I read it, but Latendresse has gone more than two games without a goal just once since New Year’s.
I enjoyed the overall game experience at HSBC Arena, but one thing is sticking in my craw, and I talked at length about this in tonight’s in-game commentary. But I’ll rehash my thoughts here. The Sabres’ mascot is a tiger named “Sabretooth.” I mean, I get the clever play on words (sabre toothed tiger), but your team name actually has two potential mascots: a buffalo or some kind of sword. Even a chicken wing would be better than a tiger!
Better yet, I see no reason why the Buffalo Sabres mascot is not a winged buffalo named “Wingy” or “Wingnut” carrying swords around. To the Sabres marketing department, who I know will be reading “Five Takeaways,” that idea is free of charge.