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Pominville lifts Wild in return to Buffalo

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jason Pominville has plenty of fond memories from his playing days in Buffalo.

He created another one Monday night, this time as a member of the visiting Minnesota Wild.

Pominville, the former Sabres captain, scored the game-winning goal with 9.7 seconds left in the second period to lead the Wild to a 2-1 victory over Buffalo at the First Niagara Center.

"Just so many good memories in this building and this city, so it was nice to get one and win it on top of that," Pominville said. "I think it just tops off a pretty emotional day in a great way."

The goal was a familiar sight to Sabres fans. Pominville ended a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence with one of his signature shots. After dishing the puck to Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu, Pominville quickly received the puck back and put a one-timer past Jhonas Enroth high to the goalie's glove side.

"That was fun to watch," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "That was some precise passing and a great finish."

Pominville did that often as a member of the Sabres, where he spent the first eight years of his career. The fan-favorite scored 185 times for Buffalo before being traded to Minnesota in a deadline deal last season.

"We're very happy for him," Yeo said. "He's a guy that brings so much to our team, so much to our locker room, and he's a guy that you just want to go out and help him. And so we're real happy."

Kyle Brodziak also scored for the Wild (3-1-2). Josh Harding made 22 saves.

Things continue to go from bad to worse for the Sabres, who are off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. Buffalo (0-6-1) is winless through seven games, matching its two worst efforts to begin a season. Buffalo also began with a seven-game winless stretch in the 1990-91 and 1999-2000 seasons.

The Sabres and the New Jersey Devils (0-3-3) are the only winless teams in the league.

"Everyone's a little frustrated," said Sabres center Brian Flynn, who scored Buffalo's lone goal. "We've just got to stay the course and trust the way we're playing and the things we're doing. If we just keep getting better every game, the results will come."

Enroth made 18 saves but received little support from his offense. The Sabres managed just 23 shots on net and continued to struggle on their power play. Buffalo went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage against the Wild.

"You're not going to win many games scoring one goal," Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. "We need our top six to step up."

Both teams started the game slowly, combining for just 11 shots on goal in the first period. There was a 15-minute delay before the start of the second period due to a lighting malfunction. The teams waited on the ice in the dimmed arena, standing by the bench and skating in their own ends of the ice to keep loose.

The Wild got on the board first on Brodziak's first goal of the season. Brodziak slid a wrist shot through Enroth's legs 5:23 into the game from just inside the right circle.

Flynn tied the game at 1-1 with just under five minutes remaining in the second period. After receiving a pass from Zemgus Girgensons near the top of the crease, Flynn's first attempt was stopped by Harding before the Buffalo right wing roofed his second attempt into the top of the net.

Minnesota appears to be finding its footing after beginning the year with three consecutive losses. The Wild earned its third win in a row and, are it hopes to carry momentum into a Tuesday night clash against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

"When that (slump) was going on, we didn't want to get too low, and right now we don't want to get too excited about ourselves, too," Yeo said. "We're going in to play a team tomorrow that's obviously very hot, and we can get a big dose of reality if we don't make sure that we're ready to play the game. I think that we recognize that this was a good win and we did a lot of things, but we feel that we have another level and we'll have to bring it tomorrow."

NOTES: Sabres D Henrik Tallinder returned from an upper-body injury after missing four games. With Tallinder back from injured reserve, the Sabres sent D Alexander Sulzer to AHL Rochester. ... D Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres' first-round draft pick in June, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. In his first six games, Ristolainen had no points and a minus-3 rating. He averaged 16:47 of ice time. ... The Sabres also scratched RW Patrick Kaleta and LW John Scott. Pending a hearing Tuesday, Kaleta is suspended for a hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson on Thursday. ... G Niklas Backstrom (knee strain), D Marco Scandella and D Nate Prosser were scratched for the Wild. ... Minnesota D Keith Ballard was drafted 11th overall by the Sabres in 2002.
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