ST. PAUL, Minn. – Owen Nolan and Antti Miettinen scored their first goals of the pre-season and the Minnesota Wild built an early lead and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Minnesota (4-1-0) scored on three of its five shots in the first period. After Nolan and Miettinen – both off-season free agent signees – built a 2-0 lead, defenceman Brent Burns was credited with a short-handed goal when his cross-ice pass was inadvertently swatted into the net by Sabres defenceman Teppo Numminen.
Daniel Paille scored in the second period for Buffalo (1-3-1). After a long lead pass from Toni Lydman, Paille’s rising shot beat goaltender Josh Harding over the right shoulder.
Harding, who had 25 saves, left the game in the third period after a fluke accident in front of the Minnesota net. Buffalo’s Dylan Hunter lifted the stick of Wild defenceman Martin Skoula in the crease, causing Skolua’s blade to enter the eye hole of Harding’s mask. Harding immediately dropped to the ice and was helped off by a trainer.
Nicklas Backstrom finished the game in goal for Minnesota, stopping five of the six shots he faced.
Buffalo’s Andrej Sekera added a power-play goal with less than a second left in the game.
Ryan Miller had 21 saves for the Sabres.