Minnesota (32-18-3) coming off a hard fought win in Philadelphia against the Flyers, faced the Buffalo Sabres (18-30-8) Friday night in a back and forth battle which ultimately lead to a tough loss for the good guys, falling to the Sabres 5-4. With some key figures out, being Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Greenway, and Matt Dumba the team came into KeyBank in need of another team win, however, this wouldn’t be the case.
Back and forth play opened up the game for these two teams before Minnesota native Casey Mittelstadt tossed one past Kaapo following a not so accurate call by the officials. While trailing in games is something that our fans and the team are unfortunately used to as of late, the team kept their sticks on the ice and powered through, which led to a goal by the red hot forward Ryan Hartman his 22nd of the year.
1-1 after one would bring the team into the second period where scoring would be minimal with the exception of Buffalo winger Kyle Okposo breaking the tie however, goaltending would be the focus. A flurry of saves by Kaapo Kahkonen kept the team in the game as he continually made stops that would show the hockey world that he truly is a player to keep an eye on.
With a tight game being displayed throughout the first two periods, the Wild needed to break open and get pucks past Craig Anderson, and that’s exactly what they did. Just under four minutes in Kevin Fiala who continued his impressive play, notched his 18th of the season to pull the game even. Moments later on the powerplay, Kirill the Thrill tallied his fifth power-play goal of the season giving the team their first lead of the night. This, however, wouldn’t last.
With about seven and a half to go in the final frame, a weird, and I mean WEIRD bounce off the boards put the puck in front of a flailing Kahkonen which lead to Jeff Skinner easily knocking it in for his 22nd of the year. A confused and not too happy looking Dean Evason peered throughout the rink watching the game turn from good, to not so good.
As time continued to wind down, Kahkonen hustled over to the bench which shortly led to an open net goal for Buffalo, however, we’d still keep it interesting thanks to #97.
While it was all fun and games in the end with Wild fans at the edge of their seats, the team dropped a tough one to Buffalo, 5-4.
Wild fans, these aren’t games that we should be losing. Especially if we are in the talks of being true contenders. But with that being said, where did our play go? I understand that we have some key players out right now, but that shouldn’t be one of the main reasons, right? While it’s a team game and not one specific player is at fault, Kevin Fiala who I thought played a good game, showed his frustration loud and clear in the postgame press conference.
Like everyone else, I can’t wait for the Wild to have a healthy lineup in their return to St. Paul. In the meantime, this team has to fix their current problems, or else we’re going to keep losing games that we could and should be winning. We need to start having those bounces go our way, need to have better consistency on the power play, and I know it’ll come. Just have to be patient.
All in all, it was another game and another frustrating night as a Minnesota fan. But I’m still optimistic in believing we’ll find our groove here soon and get back to the team we know we’re capable of being.
Tomorrow we have a break before returning home to face the Dallas Stars with puck drop at 3:00 PM CT. Until then, cheers to the weekend!