Wild snap 6-game slide, top Sabres

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Updated: January 3, 2014

St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) – Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville potted
goals 1:46 apart during Minnesota’s three-goal second period, as the Wild
snapped their season-long six-game slide with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo
Sabres on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.

Jason Zucker capped the second-period surge with his first goal of the season,
while Niklas Backstrom backstopped the victory with 19 saves.

“Backstrom is a huge story in the game for me,” said Minnesota head coach Mike
Yeo. “He was huge, even though we didn’t give up a ton. We played a better
game in front of him.”

Matt Ellis spoiled Backstrom’s shutout bid with a late marker and Ryan Miller
allowed three goals on 31 shots for the Sabres, who have lost four of their
last six games.

“They know how bad they played,” Sabres interim head coach Ted Nolan said.
“I’m very disappointed. We have to play a lot better.”

Following a scoreless first frame, Scandella got the Wild on the board 4:33
into the second when he worked a give-and-go with Matt Cooke inside the
Buffalo zone before beating Miller stick-side with a wicked wrister.

Just under two minutes later, Mikko Koivu’s cross-ice feed to the right circle
landed on the stick of Pominville, who ripped the puck past Miller for a 2-0
lead at 6:19.

Minnesota made it a three-goal spread late in the stanza after Nino
Niederreiter chipped the puck out of his own end and Zucker gloved the disc
out of mid-air in the neutral zone to start a 2-on-1 rush.

Once in the right circle, Zucker rifled a wrister that sailed high over
Miller’s glove at 16:09.

Ellis scored his second of the season with 1:12 left, but Kyle Brodziak buried
an empty-netter inside of a minute remaining to account for the final margin.

Game Notes

Buffalo forward Drew Stafford played just 3:21 before leaving the game with an
upper-body injury. He did not return … Both teams finished 0-for-4 on the
power play … Pominville’s goal was his 18th of the season.