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(Thursday, January 2nd)
Final Score: Minnesota 4, Buffalo 1
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.
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.
01/03 00:11:55 ET