Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York:
1. Joel Eriksson Ek scored the first goal of the game and it was an absolute beauty.
The rookie center gained control of the puck and skated down the right wall. Eriksson Ek walked around Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, then fired a wrister under the crossbar and in past goaltender Anders Nilsson to put the Wild ahead 1-0 at 4:51 of the first period.
Video: MIN@BUF: Eriksson Ek snipes the top corner in 1st
In a week of firsts for Eriksson Ek, the goal checked another box off the list: first game-winning goal.
"He's getting better every night," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "One of these days I'm gonna put him on the power play. But he's done everything and more that we've asked of him so far."
It was the second career goal of Eriksson Ek, who continued an impressive start to his NHL career; he now has two goals and three assists in his first four games. He'll head back to St. Paul with the team to make his home debut in a Wild uniform on Saturday against the Dallas Stars.
"I've heard a lot of great things about [the fans]," Eriksson Ek said. "It's going to be really fun."
2. In a stretch of outstanding play, Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk may have been at his absolute best in the second period.
After arguably its best first period -- a frame in which Minnesota has struggled to find consistency -- so far this season, the Wild was outshot 19-4 in the middle period on Thursday. During the first seven minutes of the second, Dubnyk was counted on to make 16 saves while his team managed just one shot during that stretch.
Video: Devan Dubnyk Postgame at Buffalo
"They were coming and they got a good push there on the [power play]," Dubnyk said. "We knew they were going to come back. We played them hard in the first and we knew they were going to have a push."
Dubnyk, who made 27 saves in a shutout victory against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, made 11 more against the Sabres for a total of 38 to earn his fourth victory in six starts this season. He is now 3-0-1 over his last four outings with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage.
It was the first time since Feb. 3-7, 2015 against Chicago and Colorado that Dubnyk posted back-to-back shutouts.
Video: MIN@BUF: Dubnyk slides across to stone Deslauriers
Fans in Buffalo have to be sick of seeing Dubnyk come here only to stonewall the home team. Dubnyk shut out Buffalo in his first game with the Wild in January of 2015 then allowed two goals on 32 shots in a win there last season. In three games at Buffalo since joining the Wild, Dubnyk is 3-0-0 and has stopped 86 of 88 shots faced.
"It's a nice feeling to finish the road trip that way and keep the good feeling in this rink," Dubnyk said. "Unfortunately we only play here once a year.
"But I've said it before, this is a special place for me. It all began here with these guys, so there will always good memories no matter what here."
3. The victory gave the Wild a winning road trip, which was especially important considering how it all started.
After salvaging a point in New Jersey on Saturday to open the road swing, Minnesota was overwhelmed the following night in Brooklyn against the Islanders.
Video: Ryan Suter Postgame at Buffalo
But the Wild responded with maybe its best game so far, a 5-0 win on Tuesday before finishing the trip with the win in Buffalo. All in all, the Wild went 2-1-1 on its venture east and returns home for the next two games within the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild is 3-0-0 this season.
"Bruce was telling us, 'Let's win the week,'" said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "This was a big game for that. Now we've got a tough challenge going back home, so we have to make sure we're ready for that and come out on home ice the way we finished the road trip here."
• Jason Zucker scored Minnesota's second goal in the first period and has now lit the lamp in back-to-back games.
• After assisting on Zucker's goal, Suter scored on a snipe from the left point early in the third. Suter, who tied a career high with eight goals and established a new best with 51 points last season, is on pace to shatter those numbers in the early going. Thursday's game marked Suter's third multi-point effort in Minnesota's first eight games.
• Mikko Koivu scored the Wild's final goal into the empty net.
• Nate Prosser and Christian Folin each earned assists on Thursday, meaning every skater on the Wild's active roster has scored at least one point this season.
• With 28 goals through eight games, the Wild is the highest scoring team in the Western Conference and sits one goal behind NHL-leading Montreal.
• Attendance: 18,122
He Said It
"That's how we have to win. We don't, like I've always said, we don't have the superstars. We need everybody on the team participating and so far we've been able to do that. Hopefully we can keep that going." -- Wild defenseman Ryan Suter on Minnesota's balanced scoring
They Said It
"In old school terms, grinding the sawdust. We weren't able to execute, got a little nervous with the puck. I don't know if that's from the [Philadelphia] game [on Tuesday] but that's what it felt like in the first." -- Sabres coach Dan Bylsma on Buffalo's sluggish start to the game offensively
Dan's Three Stars
* Devan Dubnyk
** Ryan Suter
*** Joel Eriksson Ek