BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Wild got captain Jared Spurgeon back on Friday, but no one player is going to change the narrative for Minnesota, which finally got a decent start only to watch another mistake turn into the go-ahead goal.
J.J. Peterka scored twice, and his steal at the blue line led to Jeff Skinner’s go-ahead goal on a breakaway early in the third period as the Buffalo Sabres held off the Wild, 3-2, at KeyCenter Arena.
Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek scored power-play goals, but the Wild ended their three-game trip through New York with consecutive losses. They lost to the Rangers on Thursday when a Brock Faber pinch turned into a three-on-one go-ahead goal in a 4-1 loss at Madison Square Garden.
This time, Jonas Brodin dropped a pass back to Kaprizov at the Sabres’ blue line late in the second period with the game tied 1-1. Kaprizov reared back to send the puck deep, but Peterka poked it away before it got to him.
That sent Peterka and Jeff Skinner the other way, and Skinner beat Filip Gustavsson left side to make it 2-1. Peterka buried a one-timer off a rush early in the third period for a 3-1 lead the Wild couldn’t match.
Eriksson Ek pulled the Wild within a goal on a power play with 7:33 remaining, the 100th goal of his career. But Minnesota, which pulled Gustavsson with just under two minutes remaining, could never catch up.
Gustavsson made 26 saves.
Spurgeon, playing his first game since being injured in a preseason game on Oct. 5, deflected a pass off the post in the final seconds, but Devon Levi made 31 saves for the Sabres, who improved to 6-1-1 against the Wild in the teams’ last eight meetings.
After 18 minutes of back-and-forth chances, the Sabres broke the seal when Henri Jokiharju sent a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic to beat a screened Gustavsson for a 1-0 lead at 18:02.
It was the 22nd first-period goal the Wild have surrendered this season, most in the NHL, but this time they answered. With 1:26 left in the period, Ryan Johnson was penalized for cross-checking Ryan Hartman, and the Wild began their second power play.
The teams went to a faceoff in the Sabres’ zone with 37.7 seconds left, and Joel Eriksson Ek won the draw. Mats Zuccarello corralled it and passed to Matt Boldy, who turned and sent a cross between the circles to an open Kaprizov, who one-timed in through the pads of a diving Devon Levi to tie the game 1-1 at 19:30.
The Wild nearly added another goal before the period ended when Eriksson Ek skated a puck to the crease and pulled it back before trying to stuff it into a corner from behind the net. It was a good scoring chance, and the center banged his stick on the ice after the buzzer sounded.
The second period played out in similar fashion, the teams trading blows without luck until the last two minutes, when a big play by Paterka started a breakaway finished by Jeff Skinner after the Wild had just won a draw in Buffalo’s end.
Brock Faber corralled the puck and sent it cross ice to Brodin on the left board. The defenseman moved a soft pass back to the blue line for Kaprizov, but Peterka poked it away — and forward — as Kaprizov was winding up to send the puck deep. Skinner took control and skated at Gustavsson.
When the goalie committed, Skinner went to his left and skid the puck into the left corner between the post and Gustavsson skate for a 2-1 lead at 19:02.
Buffalo quickly built on that lead in the third period, which started with more than a minute of power play time for the Sabres because Kaprizov was called for interference late in the second period.
The Wild killed that power play, but a couple of minutes later, Tage Thompson skated hard out of his zone and past the Wild’s blue line and dropped the puck to Skinner. He sent it back to Thompson down behind the goal, and he zipped a pass to the crease, where Peterka was waiting for a one-timer.
That made it 3-1 Buffalo at 3:33.
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