Devon Levi stopped 33 shots and Jeff Skinner and JJ Peterka each had a goal and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 tonight in Buffalo. Levi had to come up with several key stops, especially in the second period and in the final minutes as the Wild pressed to tie the game.
A couple of lineup changes to note for tonight’s game: Alex Tuch is day-to-day, so Dylan Cozens took his spot on the top line. Cozens had missed the last couple of games following his fight at the end of the Philly game. We also had Matthew Savoie playing his first NHL game.
Filip Gustavsson vs. Devon Levi started in nets.
Jeff Skinner– Tage Thompson – Dylan Cozens
Jordan Greenway – Casey Mittelstadt – JJ Peterka
Zemgus Girgensons – Tyson Jost – Kyle Okposo
Lukas Rousek – Peyton Krebs – Matthew Savoie
Rasmus Dahlin – Ryan Johnson
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Connor Clifton – Erik Johnson
Even in the first
Just 25 seconds into the game, Ryan Johnson was tripped in his own end and the Sabres headed to the powerplay. They only got set up a couple of times, putting three long shots on net.
The Wild is one of those teams that like to take away the middle of the ice. They are aggressive in their own end and are quick on the puck carrier. The Sabres often struggle against teams like this and that’s what happened for most of the period.
The Sabres opened the scoring at 18:02 on a snapshot from Henri Jokiharju the blueline that beat a partially screened Gustavsson. Prior to the goal, the Sabres had a lot of pressure in the Wild zone. Jokiharju one-timed the pass across from Owen Power.
The Wild tied the game on a goal on the powerplay from Kirill Kaprizov with just 30 seconds to go in the period. He one-timed a perfect circle-to-circle pass from Boldy.
Shots in the period were 11-10 for Buffalo.
Devon Levi show in the second
The Wild were all over the Sabres in the early going of the second period. Devon Levi came up with a nice glove stop on a partial breakaway.
While on a Sabres powerplay, Casey Mittelstadt took an accidental high-sticking penalty. Unfortunately, he got four minutes because there was blood.
On the resulting powerplay, Skinner, Cozens, Dahlin and R. Johnson got caught on the ice for over two full minutes as the Wild peppered Devon Levi, but the rookie goalie held the fort for his team.
The Wild dominated most of the period, at one point outshooting the Sabres 10-1.
The Sabres finally got a good bounce when Jeff Skinner scored at 19:02 to put Buffalo up 2-1. The play happened when JJ Peterka tipped a pass past the Wild defense and Skinner was off to the races. He deked and beat Gustavsson on the stick side.
The Sabres wouldn’t have gotten out of the period in the lead if it weren’t for Devon Levi, who was stellar in the Buffalo net.
Shots were 14-6 for Minnesota in the period.
The Sabres started the period on the powerplay, generating a couple of shots but not much in terms of scoring chances.
JJ Peterka scored his 6th of the season on a beautiful pass from Tage Thompson at 3:33 to make it 3-1 Buffalo. Thompson really made this play happen; he broke in with a lot of speed and never broke stride when he passed the puck to Skinner.
The Wild cut the lead on another powerplay at 12:27. Like the first Minnesota goal, this was a one-timed shot off a pretty passing play. Levi had no chance on the Eriksson Ek shot.
The Wild pulled their goalie with 1:42 to play. The Sabres did an excellent job at keeping the Wild to the outside and Levi made the stops he needed to make.
Shots in the third were 11-8; 35-25 for the game, both favoring Minnesota.
- These are the kinds of games the Sabres need to win consistently if they’re going to make the playoffs. It was a tight checking, close game with timely scoring and stellar goaltending from Devon Levi. While they owe the two points to their goalie, I liked what I saw defensively as well. In the final minutes, they managed to keep the Wild to the outside, limiting their scoring chances.
- This is the second Friday in a row where the Sabres goalie was the difference in a game. Last week, UPL stopped 38 shots against Philadelphia.
- The top line was the best line tonight. Thompson and Skinner were superb.
- While Cozens didn’t quite look himself tonight – he hasn’t really found his groove all season – he played well.
- Don Granato said he thought Alex Tuch would play one of the weekend games, not both. So, I’d expect to see him rejoin the Thompson line tomorrow night.
- Casey Mittelstadt was fantastic tonight even though he didn’t record any points in the game.
- Ryan Johnson’s play will certainly make taking him out of the lineup a tough decision. It appears as through Mattias Samuelsson is close to returning, so the team will have to make some roster moves when he comes off IR. Do they send Johnson back to Rochester? Or maybe they waive Jacob Bryson. Most likely? They send Rousek back to Rochester.
- We really didn’t see much of Matt Savoie in his NHL debut. He only played 3:55. He and Peyton Krebs didn’t see much ice time.
- The Sabres are now above .500 for the first time this season.
Catch up on all the Sabres results and upcoming schedule here.