Wild snap 6-game skid as Dubnyk blanks Sabres in net debut
Goalie Devan Dubnyk had such an easy time in his Minnesota Wild debut Thursday night, he barely worked up a sweat.
When teammate Matt Cooke tossed him a towel in the locker room following a 7-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres, Dubnyk tossed it aside with a smile, saying he didn’t need it.
"There were some nerves at the start, but the guys made it easy on me," he said. "Right from the drop of the puck, they were working."
Dubnyk made 18 saves in his 10th career shutout, which came a day after being acquired in a trade with Arizona. Jason Pominville had three assists and Thomas Vanek had a goal and assist against their former team in helping the Wild (19-19-5) snap an 0-5-1 skid.
The Sabres (14-28-3) continued their freefall by extending their losing streak to nine — all decided in regulation. No NHL team has done that since the Edmonton Oilers lost nine straight in regulation from Feb. 25 to March 15, 2007, according to STATS.
"When you get blown out, you get embarrassed in your own building, I feel bad for the fans that come here to support us," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We go out and have an effort like that in front of them, they don’t deserve that. They deserve better."
The Wild jumped to a 2-0 lead in a first period in which they outshot Buffalo 15-3. And they scored five times on their first 25 shots before the second period was over in rebounding from a 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Zach Parise, Kyle Brodziak and Erik Haula had a goal and assist each in a game the Wild enjoyed their largest margin of victory in franchise history. Cooke, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon also scored for Minnesota.
Parise opened the scoring 5:13 in when he was allowed to walk in front untouched from the left corner. Vanek scored a power-play goal in the final minute, when his one-timer from the right circle banked in off the far post.
The Wild scored three times in the second period — including Brodziak’s short-handed goal. Cooke and Haula capped the route in the third period.
Dubynk’s best save came 5:05 into the second period, when he got his right pad out to stop Tyler Ennis’ attempt, while cutting across the front of the crease.
"No disrespect to them, I know it’s been a hard season for them up until this point," Parise said, referring to the Sabres. "For us, we needed a game like that. We need a game where guys felt good."
It has been an emotional week for Parise and hockey fans in Minnesota. Parise’s father and former Minnesota North Stars player J.P. Parise died of lung cancer last week, and his funeral will be held on Friday.
"We’ve got obviously a tough, emotional day tomorrow," said coach Mike Yeo, whose team returns home following a three-game road trip. "We’re going to have to find a way to gear ourselves back up and ready to try to be even better the next game."
The win provided the fourth-year coach a respite from having to answer questions about his job security.
The criticism was directed at the Sabres, who were booed off the ice following the second period.
Buffalo has been outscored 39-9 during its losing streak, dating to a 4-3 shootout victory over Calgary on Dec. 27.
The Sabres’ anemic power play went 0 for 3. Buffalo has been so inept with the man advantage this season that it has scored a league-low 11 power-play goals and allowed a league-high eight short-handed goals.
"I’m speechless," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
NOTES: Wild D Ryan Suter served his first game of a two-game game suspension issued by the NHL on Wednesday for elbowing Pittsburgh forward Steve Downie in Minnesota’s 7-2 loss Tuesday. … Sabres RW Chris Stewart returned after missing two games with the flu, which led to forward Zac Dalpe being returned to AHL Rochester. … Referee Garrett Rank made his NHL debut. His brother Kyle Rank spent three seasons playing for the Sabres’ AHL affiliate.