Larsson, Sabres top Wild for 3rd straight win
SAINT PAUL--Johan Larsson doesn't score a ton of goals. But when he does, it always seems to be at a key time in the game for the Buffalo Sabres. Larsson scored the game-winner in the latter half of the third period Tuesday as the Sabres won thei...
SAINT PAUL-Johan Larsson doesn't score a ton of goals. But when he does, it always seems to be at a key time in the game for the Buffalo Sabres.
Larsson scored the game-winner in the latter half of the third period Tuesday as the Sabres won their third game in a row, beating the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Of the 18 goals scored by Larsson in his career, seven of them have been game-winners.
Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Sabres (4-3-2) and Robin Lehner had 27 saves as Buffalo became the first visiting team to win in Minnesota this season.
"I know. It just happens," Larrson said of his propensity for game-winning goals. "Fortunately I'm out there and a little bit of luck, I guess. ... It was a tough loss last game against them (last week), so we wanted to play better here against them and we know, I think, it's three shutouts. So it was good to get a goal there and the two points are huge for us here."
The Wild (6-3-1), who had shut out the Sabres in Buffalo last week, got a power-play goal from Mikael Granlund and 22 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk, but fell to 4-1-0 at home.
"The things that we did in the second period we didn't do in the third period, quite frankly,"Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We didn't get it behind their D. We didn't forecheck. We had 28 shots at the net in the second period. I don't know what we had in the third. ... To score in this league we have to play on the inside. I don't think we had a lot of second chances."
Larsson, who was originally drafted by Minnesota and played one game for the Wild in the 2012-13 season, went to Buffalo in the 2013 trade that brought Jason Pominville to Minnesota. Crashing to the net, he took a pass from Brian Gionta that deflected off the blade of Granlund's stick and off the shaft of Larsson's stick and into the Minnesota net. It was Larsson's second goal of the season.
It took the Sabres three shots on goal, and a little less than four minutes, to do what nobody had done in a week-score a goal on Dubnyk. His career- and franchise-best shutout streak of more than three games came to an end early when O'Reilly got a loose puck in traffic at the top of the crease and was able to slide a low shot between the right post and Dubnyk's skate. It was the fourth goal of the season for O'Reilly, but his first since Oct. 18.
Dubnyk's shutout streak officially ended at 183:16.
"We're a part of the shutout streak. We're a part of him stopping 39 shots in two periods against us in Buffalo," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Knowing the run they're on, knowing the run he's on, we talked about it and felt like we needed to get some traffic in front of him. It was going to have to be a longer shot and then pick up the pieces afterward, and that's exactly what it was. It felt good to see that puck find the back of the net against a guy that's been playing so well."
The 1-0 advantage for the visitors held up through 20 minutes, with the Sabres holding a 9-6 lead in shots in the first period. The injury-riddled Buffalo lineup got a little thinner in the first period when starting defenseman Zach Bogosian headed to the locker room and did not return due to a knee injury.
"It was unfortunate," Bylsma said after his team was down to five defensemen for much of the game without Bogosian. "He went down on the wall and his skate got caught in a rut. He had a tweak of the knee, so I don't have any idea of the prognosis right now."
It was late in the second period before the penalty box attendants had their visitor of the night. But when Buffalo defenseman Josh Georges was whistled for slashing, the ensuing power play was the break Minnesota needed to tie the game.
Eric Staal got a shot on Lehner that hit the goalie's leg pads hard and rebounded to the left of the net. There, Granlund was crashing to the crease, and was able to flip a backhand shot into the yawning net, with Lehner still covering the right post. It was the second goal in as many games for Granlund.
"It got tight. They did a good job of fronting and keeping us to the outside and blocking a lot of shots," said Staal, who has a five-game point streak. "That first stretch obviously in the second, we did a lot of making them turn, and a lot of time in their end and were rewarded with a lot of offensive chances. Third period, we didn't get to it as much, but still had some looks and just weren't able to get anything to fall."
NOTES: Sabres rookie RW Hudson Fasching was in attendance but not in uniform Tuesday, as he deals with a groin ailment. The former University of Minnesota star said he was disappointed not to be able to play in his home state. ... Wild F Zac Dalpe underwent successful surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. Dalpe was hurt in Minnesota's 4-0 win over Dallas on Saturday. He is expected to return to the lineup in 4-6 weeks. ... On Tuesday, Buffalo recalled F Justin Bailey from its AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. Bailey is a Buffalo native and played in the first eight games of the season for the Sabres last year. This is the first time he has been recalled in the 2016-17 season. ... Three Wild D-Jonas Brodin, Christian Folin and Matt Dumba-and assistant coach John Anderson are schedule to go on a pheasant hunting outing on Wednesday along with fans who won an on-line contest. This will be the fifth annual Hunt with the Wild event, which is held at a hunting club outside St. Paul.