The Wild shuffles into Buffalo on a two-game win streak. As good as the last two wins feel, they came at a price. Jared Spurgeon has been diagnosed with a concussion after taking a flying elbow to the head in the first period against the Calgary Flames. Alex Tanguay’s left elbow has put the defenseman out indefinitely. With the team playing well, the loss of Spurgeon is especially damaging because he plays every situation and leads the team in points by defenseman. With Spurgeon out, the Wild is down to six healthy defensemen and Kurtis Foster will enter the lineup.
Niklas Backstrom has suffered a lower body injury and did not travel with the team. Matt Hackett has been recalled as an emergency backup goalie.
Thursday, the Wild charged from behind to beat the Flames, 3-2 in a shootout. Dany Heatley scored a second-period power play goal to get things started for the Wild, and Darroll Powe’s third-period tally evened the score. Devin Setoguchi fired the only goal in the shootout. Josh Harding made 27 saves and stopped all four shooters he faced in the shootout for the win.
Last night, the Sabres beat the New York Rangers 4-1. Drew Stafford had two goals and an assist, linemate Tyler Ennis had a goal and two assists, and Marcus Foligno set up both of them. Travis Turnbull added his first NHL goal. Ryan Miller made 26 saves in the win.
Wild at Sabres will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 6:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Take a photo of yourself in some Wild regalia and submit it into the Sabres fan scrapbook on the team’s website. Let’s see if we can flood Buffalo’s book with some green and Iron Range Red.
The Sabres are surging and are tied with Washington for the eight spot in the East. On Feb. 17, Buffalo was 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, 10 points out of a playoff spot. Since, the Sabres are 12-2-4 and are trying to become the second team to rally from such a deficit so late in the season to get a postseason berth.
Offensively, Jason Pominville (28+39=67) and, former Golden Gopher, Thomas Vanek (23+30=53) lead the Sabres. In net, Ryan Miller is one of the best American-born goaltenders in the NHL.
Kyle Brodziak is on a three-game point streak, scoring six points in that span (2-4=6). He has tallied eight points in the last six games (3-5=8). Since March 8, Brodziak is tied for 15th in NHL scoring.
The Wild has been ravaged by injuries this season and this two-game road trip will be no different. Minnesota will play all six active defenseman against the Sabres and cannot recall another D-man from Houston unless it is an emergency call-up.
Against Calgary, the Wild was so thin on the blue line, Matt Cullen skated a couple of shifts at defense. Minnesota finished the game with only four defensemen. Marco Scandella blocked a shot in the third period and didn’t return. Scandella will play tonight, but the Wild will be without Spurgeon, who is out indefinitely a concussion. Justin Falk (lower body) is skating, but still is not ready and didn’t travel with the team.
Kurtis Foster will see his first action since March 8. Since coming to the Wild in a trade with New Jersey before the NHL Trade Deadline, Foster has had back issues and only played in six games. Foster is a big body, but has a bigger shot. With Spurgeon out, Foster might see some power play time.
Matt Kassian (groin) didn't travel with the team, so all 12 forwards on the trip will play: