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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Sabres 4

Three takeaways from the Wild's 5-4 win in Buffalo on Wednesday

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 5-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Key Bank Center in Buffalo on Wednesday night:

1. If he hadn't already, Mikael Granlund has officially caught fire.

Granlund scored two goals on Monday then potted two more on Wednesday to give him four goals in three periods of hockey (he scored both tallies in the third period on Monday). 

After Jason Pominville gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 6:55 into the contest and Tyler Ennis returned the favor two minutes later, Granlund scored his first of the night by rifling a wicked wrist shot past Sabres starting goaltender Chad Johnson, finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Daniel Winnik.

Video: MIN@BUF: Granlund roofs a wrister from the high slot

Then with Minnesota ahead by a pair of goals in the second, Granlund found the scoreboard again when he tipped a shot by Mikko Koivu from a few feet in front of the crease to give the Wild a 5-2 edge.

Granlund's second was Minnesota's second power-play goal of the night and seventh in its past 10 periods of ice hockey. It's a dramatic turn of events for a club that had scored just once in its previous 34 power plays prior, a span that lasted 11 games. 

Video: MIN@BUF: Granlund redirects a PPG in front

"We gotta keep it going," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Special teams wins you games and tonight we were a plus-2. Those plus-2 made us win."

The two-goal game on Monday had snapped a six-game goal drought for Granlund, who now has at least one point in five straight games overall, with multi-point efforts in three of those five. During that stretch, Granlund has four goals and five assists.

"Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't," Granlund said. "As long as you try to play as good as you can, create chances and play responsible, it's gonna happen."

2. Speaking of players who are on fire and scored two goals on Wednesday...

Like Granlund, Nino Niederreiter potted a goal apiece in the first and second periods, giving the Wild a two-goal lead each time. 

His power-play goal late in the first period came on a re-direction of a Mikko Koivu shot and was a sneak preview of what was to come on Granlund's power-play marker later in the game.

Video: MIN@BUF: Niederreiter tips a PPG home from in front

Niederreiter now has at least one goal in five consecutive games, one shy of the franchise record set by Brian Rolston in 2008.

"It's been great getting rewarded, but at the same time I'm just trying to go to the net and tried to get some greasy goals. Fortunately they're going in right now," he said. 

Niederreiter now has eight goals on the season, all of which have come since his return from a high ankle sprain 12 games ago. He also has three assists for 11 points during that span.  

Niederreiter's past three goals have come from a total of about 15 feet out from the net, which has been a focus of his all season. 

"I think that's my bread and butter around that area," Niederreiter said. "For me, it's important just to get there and find a way to beat my [defenseman] to the inside and somehow get there."

Video: MIN@BUF: Niederreiter tucks home his second of game

His willingness to go to the dirty areas and ability to score from in tight has provided the Wild with a reminder of exactly what it was missing when Niederreiter was out of the lineup.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame at Buffalo

"He goes to the net and he's hungry," Boudreau said. "He's not going to get a million beautiful goals but he's going to get the greasy ones in front of the net; that's what he does and that's what we need."

3. Each team had a former player score a goal against his former mates.

Pominville started things off less than seven minutes in when he banged away at a loose puck near the right post, finally slipping it past Devan Dubnyk for a 1-0 Buffalo lead. The goal was waved off on the ice, but after a lengthy review (supplemented by a classy tribute video to Ennis and Marcus Foligno), the call was reversed.

Video: Locker room postgame at Buffalo

It took 2:04 for Ennis to get it back, as the one-time first-round pick of the Sabres got a smattering of cheers when his name was announced. Ennis had a few highlight-reel goals in this building during his time here, but his one on Wednesday seemed to be more lucky than good. From the bottom of the left circle, Ennis swatted a backhand at Johnson that seemed to catch the goaltender by surprise, beating him five-hole for Ennis's fourth of the season.

Video: MIN@BUF: Ennis scores in first game back in Buffalo

"It's funny how it works out. I've had so many chances, breakaways, posts the last little while here and just a shot from a tough angle goes in," Ennis said. "I just gotta keep going. As long as you're creating chances, the puck's going to go in."

Foligno, the second player acquired by the Wild in the deal (Marco Scandella also went to Buffalo in the June trade), gained the first assist on the goal. Charlie Coyle earned his first point (third of the season) since returning from a fractured leg on Monday.

"It was nice. [Pominville] scored so I had to go get one," Ennis said. "Not the best game for us overall, but we got two points and we move on."

The tallies snapped 10-game goal skids for both Pominville and Ennis. 


Loose Pucks

• Koivu and defenseman Ryan Suter each had two assists for the Wild.

Jason Zucker and Eric Staal each tallied single assists.

• Goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 of 34 shots.

Video: MIN@BUF: Dubnyk makes two strong saves in front

• Johnson made 10 saves and allowed three goals before being removed at the start of the second period. 

• Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner stopped 17 of 19 shots over the final 40 minutes and was charged with the loss.

• Attendance: 17,418


He Said It

"We won. It was an ugly game on both sides. But we persevered." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau


Dan's Three Stars

* Mikael Granlund 

** Nino Niederreiter

*** Mikko Koivu

Video: Granlund, Niederreiter lead Wild to 5-4 win

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