Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-4 shootout loss against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday night:
1. Zach Parise's late heroics assured the Wild of a point.
With Devan Dubnyk on the bench for an extra attacker and Minnesota down one, it was its leading goal scorer that knotted things up.
Minnesota buzzed the Buffalo zone with heavy possession before working the puck to the front of the net. Goaltender Linus Ullmark couldn't get a clean cover and Parise whacked away at the loose puck that hopped over Ullmark's skate and trickled an inch or two over the red line with 1:37 left in regulation.
The goal assured the Wild of a critical point in the standings.
After a scoreless overtime, Buffalo earned the extra point in the skills competition by getting the only goal from Sam Reinhart in round three.
2. Jared Spurgeon single-handedly kept the Wild afloat.
Minnesota fell behind in the first period, only to see Spurgeon tie the game 6:29 into the second, a goal which capped a dominant start to the middle frame. Spurgeon's goal was the 10th shot of the period for the Wild, who jumped to a 10-1 shots advantage to begin the second.
Video: MIN@BUF: Spurgeon swats puck out of air
But the Wild wouldn't put another shot on goal for seven-plus minutes. In that span, the Sabres scored twice, including once on the power play, to grab a 3-1 lead. But that next shot was another one by Spurgeon, this time on a wraparound, that eluded Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark and made it a one-goal hockey game.
Video: MIN@BUF: Spurgeon wraps puck home for second goal
Spurgeon's second goal calmed things down. Eventually, Minnesota would tie it on Charlie Coyle's net-crashing chance with 2:55 left. Luke Kunin's shot blasted off the post and laid in the crease for Coyle, who bowled over a pair of Sabres then dislodged the net in "bull-in-a-china-shop" fashion.
Video: MIN@BUF: Coyle cleans up in front to knot the score
Kunin, recalled from Iowa on Monday, had a pair of assists in the game.
3. Mikko Koivu did not return to the game after leaving following an awkward collision.
On his fourth shift of the game, Koivu collided with Sabres forward Tage Thompson near the Wild's defensive blue line. Koivu remained on the ice for a few seconds before retreating back to the bench and eventually down the tunnel.
It appeared Koivu's right knee took the brunt of the contact, which could be a bit of good news ... Because it's the second time this season Koivu has been the victim of a knee-on-knee hit following a collision in Calgary on Dec. 6, a hit that cost him four games. That time, it was his left knee.
Already without Eric Fehr, who missed the game because of an injury, the Wild's depth down the middle was tested the rest of the way. Coyle moved to the middle, where he was outstanding for the better part of a month, before being shifted back to the wing following the Victor Rask trade a couple of weeks ago.
Coyle responded by scoring the Wild's third goal, which tied the game late in the second period.