Despite claiming an early lead, the Minnesota Wild fell to the Buffalo Sabres 6-3 in the opening game of the 2011 Traverse City Prospects Tournament today.
“We had a good first period, but we took a couple late penalties and stopped skating a little bit,” Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr said. “I think if we get our forecheck going and keep generating chances, hopefully we’ll have some success.”
The Wild came out strong, and Zack Phillips
lit the lamp first on the power play 7:27 into the first period. Kris Foucault deflected a long pass up to Phillips, who skated hard down the left side and slipped the puck past goaltender Nathan Lieuwen on the short side.
Defenseman Chay Genoway
put the Wild up 2-0 on another Wild power play four minutes later on a feed from Tyler Cuma
and Tyler Maxwell. But the Sabres responded, pulling within one with just under four minutes remaining in the first on a goal from Luke Adam, then tying it up with Nick Crawford’s unassisted tally in the final seconds of the stanza.
The Wild fell behind 3-2 when Riley Boychuk netted the puck two minutes into the second. It looked as though the Sabres’ lead would carry the team into the second intermission as the period’s final seconds ticked away.
But with just six seconds remaining on the clock, tryout forward and St. Paul native Mike Kramer evened the score, 3-3. As the Wild killed off a penalty, Tyler Graovac
skated toward the opposing net and beat the defenseman wide. Kramer followed and was able to burry the puck.
While the final period began in a 3-3 stalemate, Jonathan Parker’s mark reclaimed the Sabres’ lead eight minutes into the third. The Sabres pulled ahead by two on a goal from Daniel Catenacci with two minutes remaining. After a fighting penalty awarded to Kris Fredheim
, Phil Varone capitalized on the power play and empty Wild net, posting the game’s last goal with just over a minute on the clock and solidifying the contest’s 6-3 finish.
Flahr said the team looks to reestablish its forecheck in tomorrow’s game. “In the first period we had it. We put pressure on their defense and created some turnovers and scoring chances, but I think we stopped skating a little bit and they got their momentum going,” he said.
Despite today’s loss, Flahr said the team can potentially advance to the championship if it wins its next two games. “They played hard. We just have to execute a little better and capitalize on our chances,” he said. “If we play smart and play our game, hopefully things will go our way.”
The Wild face off against Detroit tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in their second game of the tournament. Flahr’s Stars: Tyler Cuma
: Matched up against the Sabres’ top line most of the game, came up big defensively and proved to be a strong team leader. Brett Bulmer
: Made some nice plays and drove the puck to the net well. Showed his skills and was able to manage the puck nicely. Tryout Star:
Taylor Peters: Held strong defensively, especially on the penalty kill. Generated offense down low and was able to carry the play. Flahr’s Top Play:
Kramer’s shorthanded goal in the final seconds of the second period. Flahr’s Key Takeaway
Late in the game and in important situations, the team can’t afford to be shorthanded. If Minnesota stays out of the box, they will likely see better results.