The Minnesota Wild have yet to lose three straight this season, a run they look to continue when they host the Buffalo Sabres at St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday.
The Wild have lost two in a row after an eight-game winning streak, with both losses coming at the end of a four-game road trip. Now the Central Division leaders are back home, where they’re 10-2-0 on the season and have won six straight.
“You can’t be satisfied, even if you win eight in a row or lose one, you’ve gotta come back at it,” Wild forward Mats Zuccarello said. “I think (Sunday), wasn’t our best. … But we battle hard, as a team. Everyone out there gives everything, they’re blocking shots, back checking. As long as we have that, we’re in a good spot.”
The Wild had their game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday postponed as the result of four additional Hurricanes players entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. That pushed back the return of defenseman Jonas Brodin, slated to play after missing two games with an upper-body injury.
“He’s a big part of our hockey club,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “He does so many really good things. All areas of the game.”
Former Sabres winger Marcus Foligno has 13 goals on the season, tied with Ryan Hartman for the team lead.
The Sabres are looking to build momentum after a win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday that snapped a seven-game slide.
“I thought our guys’ intent upon details and getting the win was evident to me going into the game,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “It was a little bit of a build from the last game and our guys were maybe ticked off. … There was better intent and they saw it through and obviously nice to get the win. But we were able to roll four lines, and everybody played through. Very consistent game.”
The win marked just the second time in the past month that the Sabres have earned points in consecutive games, having also done so on Nov. 26-27 (1-0-1). The Sabres haven’t won consecutive games since Oct. 25 and Oct. 28.
The four-goal output against the Jets was one more than they scored in their previous three games combined.
“Their belief system that they can score, that they will score is extremely high,” Granato said. “They just look forward, look ahead because they believe in their next opportunity they’re going to score. … We weren’t there three games ago. Going into the Anaheim game (2-0 loss) and coming out of the Carolina game (6-2 loss), we were very focused on defending and play tight. At that point, yes, I was worried about them. I think now the direction they’re the goals are going to follow.”
Buffalo could be without defenseman Robert Hagg, who tried to play through an injury in the second period before being held out for the third. If he’s unable to play, Colin Miller would likely draw in. Miller has been scratched each of the past two games.
Winger Alex Tuch practiced in a regular jersey on Wednesday, shedding the non-contact one he’d been wearing since first skating with the team on Nov. 29. Granato said he is close to returning but it will be after the road trip, which concludes Friday in Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media