BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sam Reinhart scored the lone shootout goal and the Buffalo Sabres won for just the third time in nine games by beating the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Reinhart also had a goal and an assist in regulation for the Sabres, who led by two in the second period before giving up Zach Parise’s tying goal with 1:37 left in the third. Linus Ullmark stopped 41 shots through overtime in a game Buffalo never trailed.
Jack Eichel set up two goals and C.J. Smith also scored. Buffalo’s once anemic power-play unit converted both opportunities on goals from Evan Rodrigues and Rasmus Dahlin.
The two goals matched the Sabres’ combined output in their previous 11 games during which Buffalo went 2 of 28 with the man advantage.
Reinhart scored on Buffalo’s third and final shootout attempt. Driving up the left side, he snapped a shot that beat Devan Dubnyk under his right arm. Dubnyk got a piece of the shot, but it had enough on it to dribble in behind him.
The Sabres then secured the victory when Parise’s backhand went high and wide on the Wild’s final shootout attempt.
Minnesota defenceman Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Charlie Coyle also scored during a three-goal second period. Dubnyk stopped 35 shots.
Minnesota dropped to 0-1-2 in its past three games, matching its second-longest skid of the season.
Buffalo bounced back after opening a seven-game homestand with a 7-3 loss to Chicago on Friday night.
Sabres coach Phil Housley used the three-day break between games by attempting to give his slumping team a spark as he shuffled his top three lines and defensive pairings. He most notably split up Buffalo’s All-Star pairing of Eichel and forward Jeff Skinner. Eichel centred Kyle Okposo and Conor Sheary, while Skinner moved to a line centred by rookie Casey Mittelstadt.
The moves appeared to pay off when Buffalo’s revamped second power-play unit converted on Rodrigues’ goal 4:31 into the game. The Sabres built a 3-1 edge 11:33 into the second when Dahlin’s shot from inside the blue line went in off Spurgeon’s stick in front.
Defensive lapses led to the Wild tying the game at 3 before the period was over.
Spurgeon scored 3:10 later, when he was allowed to break in up the right side, drive around the net and wrap in a shot.
Coyle tied it at 3 with 2:55 left in the second period. Ullmark stopped Greg Pateryn’s shot from the right point and Luke Kunin slipped the rebound under the goalie but off the right post. Coyle beat two Sabres defenders to put the loose puck into the open net.
NOTES: Wild captain Mikko Koivu sustained an undisclosed injury and did not return after colliding with Buffalo’s Tage Thompson in the first period. … Smith played a day after being recalled from AHL Rochester, where he had five goals and seven assists in eight games after being demoted from Buffalo. … Kunin and Kyle Rau played for Minnesota a day after being called up from AHL Iowa. … Wild D Anthony Bitetto, claimed off waivers from Nashville on Jan. 25, played his first game with Minnesota.
Wild: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
Sabres: Continue their seven-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press