By KEVIN CHROUST STATS Writer
Minnesota (2-1-2) at Buffalo (0-5-1), 7:30 p.m. EDT
It’s been all about a lack of offense for the Sabres (0-5-1), who are looking to avoid matching the worst start in franchise history. They went winless in seven straight to open the 1990-91 and 1999-2000 seasons.
This Buffalo club has a league-low six goals and has been outshot in every game, including a 40-29 margin in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Chicago. The Sabres, the only team yet to reach two points though no club has played more games, have scored more than a goal once in six contests.
“It puts a lot of emphasis in the backside and you can’t make any mistakes,” goaltender Ryan Miller said. “We’ve got to try to find a way to earn our goals and find a way to score.”
The bad start has been no fault of Miller’s. He has a .941 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average to go with his 0-4-0 start. He’s faced 153 shots in four games.
The scoring chances aren’t likely to come much easier against the Wild (2-1-2), who have allowed two goals in their last eight periods. They’ve faced fewer than 20 shots in three of their five games and are limiting opponents to a league-low 21.4 per game.
Minnesota held Dallas to 19 shots Saturday in a 5-1 home win, outshooting its eighth straight regular-season opponent dating back to last season.
“We’ve talked about how we want to be a puck-possession team and how defending is a lot easier when you have the puck,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I like the way that we defend. I like the structure that we have. But, again, we’d much rather force them to defend than put ourselves in that position.”
The Wild haven’t defended all that well on the penalty kill, allowing six goals in 18 short-handed situations. But Buffalo’s power play is 2 for 21 on the season, including 0 for 3 against Chicago.
The Sabres did outshoot the Stanley Cup champions 13-3 in the third period. Drew Stafford scored at the 11:49 mark to get them back in it, but they weren’t able to overcome a two-goal deficit.
“I thought we had more chances from more lines, not just our top line,” coach Ron Rolston said. “We haven’t had that the last couple of games, so that’s a positive for us.”
The Wild’s five goals against Dallas came from five different players, which matches the number of Sabres’ goal scorers for the season.
While Zach Parise got his fourth goal in five games, Justin Fontaine, Mathew Dumba and Nino Niederreiter all scored their first.
“Tonight was a step in the right direction. That was our first, full 60-minute game,” Matt Cooke told the Wild’s official website after having a goal and an assist for the second straight game.
Backup goalie Josh Harding improved to 2-1-0 with 18 saves. He has allowed one goal in each of his three games. Starter Niklas Backstrom has been out since straining his knee Tuesday at Nashville, though he has returned to practice.
The Sabres have won their last two against the Wild, including a 3-1 home victory in the last meeting March 24, 2012. Miller was in net for the win and is 3-1-0 with a 2.10 GAA against the Wild.