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Wild close out Hockey Day Minnesota with shootout win over Sabres

Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov, and Freddy Gaudreau all converted in the shootout, while Marc-Andre Fleury made a big save that proved to be the difference

Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) has the puck knocked away as he shoots on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) has the puck knocked away as he shoots on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — With the party settling down roughly 15 minutes away in White Bear Lake, the Minnesota Wild closed out Hockey Day Minnesota in style.

After erasing a couple of deficits on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild completed the comeback with a 3-2 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov and Freddy Gaudreau all converted in the shootout, while Marc-Andre Fleury made a big save that proved to be the difference.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) covers a rebound, with Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) attacking on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) covers a rebound, with Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) attacking on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

There’s something about Hockey Day Minnesota that seems to bring out the best in the Wild as they now boast a 14-2-1 record in games played on the annual spectacle.

It was a slow start for the Wild as Sabres winger Jack Quinn made it 1-0 a couple of minutes into the game. The sequence started with a turnover by Jake Middleton, then Quinn turned Connor Dewar into a pretzel before wiring a puck into the back of the net.

The deficit didn’t last long as Joel Eriksson Ek cashed in on the power play about a minute later to help the Wild level the score at 1-1. It was essentially a slam dunk for Eriksson Ek on the doorstep as Kirill Kaprizov found him with a spinning pass from below the red line.

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Though it looked like the Wild were in store for another track meet with the Sabres, which coach Dean Evason cautioned against before the game, they managed to get back to their game rather quickly from there.

That said, Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons made it 2-1 midway through the second period after a defensive breakdown in front of Marc-Andre Fleury left him unmarked near the crease.

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The response from the Wild came a few minutes later this time as Jared Spurgeon hammered home a perfect seam pass from Freddy Gaudreau to make it 2-2.

After the Wild managed to tie the game once again, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin appeared to net a buzzer beater to close out the second period. Upon further review, the officials waved it off, ruling that the puck did not cross the goal line before time expired.

As hard as both teams pushed in the third period, neither the Wild nor the Sabres found the back of the net. It was the same story in overtime, paving the way for a shootout where the Wild emerged victorious.

Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek (14) ties the game, scoring on the Buffalo Sabres in the first period on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek (14) ties the game, scoring on the Buffalo Sabres in the first period on Jan. 28, 2023 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports

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