Game 14: A circuitous route to victory
It wasn't pretty or technically sound or all that well-played on the whole, but the Sabres found a way to earn a 3-2 win against Minnesota.
BUFFALO — If there’s a universal truth about the game of hockey it’s that it’s not always going to be a beautifully played game, but there can be individual beauty contained within the game itself.
That’s a good description of how the Sabres came away with a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night: Ugly on the whole, but with individual efforts that helped pave the way for a victory.
Finding the lead story in this one could lead you down many paths.
There was Devon Levi shining in a game that had no discernable flow. The rookie goalie made 33 saves including a dazzling stop against Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov and looked as calm and cool as one could be in a game where there was more traffic around the net than at rush hour in your favorite city with terrible gridlock.
You had JJ Peterka set up Jeff Skinner for a breakaway goal late in the second period and then score what wound up being the game-winner in the third after a slick setup by Tage Thompson who netted his 100th career assist on the play. For Peterka it was his sixth goal and for Skinner his team-leading seventh of the season. Henri Jokiharju also scored his second goal of the year.
Then you had players who didn’t land on the scoresheet but played dynamite hockey, especially late in the game. Casey Mittelstadt stepped up in a big way to control the puck during his shifts to force the flow of the game back into the Minnesota end. He was a force in puck battles along the boards all game and showed the kind of competitiveness fans should get used to seeing from here on out. Really impressive work of which none of it shows up in the box score.
“A good grind there by the guys, especially at the end there,” Skinner said. “Some guys that beat some long shifts in the D zone and grinded it out. Obviously, Levs made some big saves. But, yeah, I think obviously maybe not our best game but found a way to get a win, which is the important thing. So, try to pick up some of the positives and take them into tomorrow (against Pittsburgh).”
A few more notes on a win below the fold…
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