Game Preview: Minnesota Wild @ Buffalo Sabres


The Minnesota Wild finally made a move, trading a third-round pick in 2015 for Devan Dubnyk. The guy they hope can solve their goaltending woes this season. Beginning with tonight.

Winless in their last six, and tanking hard, the 18-19-5 Wild can’t ask for a much better match-up than the 14-27-3 Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are cold right now too, not having won in their last eight games.

Some former Sabres will be playing in their old barn tonight. Jason Pominville leads Minnesota with 33 points into his old stomping grounds. Fellow former Sabre Thomas Vanek has 25 points this season.

Both Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson returned to Buffalo from Minnesota as free agents this past off-season. Moulson has 17 points so far in this campaign. McCormick, with four, is on the injured reserve with a blood clot in his calf muscle.

Minnesota won the only other match-up between these teams at home 6-3 on November 13th. This was when Nino Niederreiter was scoring, as he notched his first career hat trick in the victory.

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The now-injured Darcy Kuemper let in the first two shots before being pulled for Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom got the win, stopping 16 of 17. Previously slated to start tonight, Backstrom will take a spot on the bench as Minnesota turns to Dubnyk.

Jhonas Enroth let in five of 38 shots in the loss, but will return to the crease tonight.

Minnesota’s blue line is all over the place right now.

Ryan Suter was suspended two games for his elbow to the head of Pittsburgh Penguin’s forward, Steve Downie, last game. Yesterday defenseman Marco Scandella was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. He hasn’t played in the last four games. Also on the back end, Justin Falk is out with an upper-body injury.

Just recalled from the Iowa Wild, Matt Dumba should draw into the lineup for the first time since November 28th.

Minnesota is now eight points back of the Vancouver Canucks for the final wild card spot in the West, ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. Buffalo is last in the East, 21 points from the second wild card spot held by Boston. There’s a good chance they could wind up with Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

Using, Minnesota currently has the fifth best five-on-five Fenwick For % (55%) in the league. Their PDO is 29th at 97.3%, suggesting that an improvement in goal could turn their fortunes around. Time will be limited though, and Minnesota will need to get hot to make a playoff push at this point.

Puck drop is at 6:00pm CST tonight, as the Wild looks to get on track against the Sabres.