Johan Larsson has developed a knack for delivering when the Buffalo Sabres are in need of a goal.
Larsson had a third-period score in his return to Minnesota and Robin Lehner made 27 saves, lifting Buffalo to a 2-1 win against the Wild on Tuesday night.
A 2010 second-round pick by Minnesota, Larsson has seven game-winning goals among his 18 career tallies, and all seven in 83 games the past two seasons for the Sabres.
”It just happens,” Larsson said. ”Fortunately, I’m out there and a little bit of luck, I guess.”
Ryan O’Reilly added his fourth goal for Buffalo, which has won three straight.
Larsson scored his second of the season past goaltender Devan Dubnyk with just over six minutes left. Brian Gionta centered a puck that went off the stick of Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund and deflected off the shaft of Larsson’s stick.
The Swedish forward played one career game for the Wild in 2013 before being traded for Jason Pominville.
”He was a guy who scored a lot for us at the end of last season and did have a knack for getting the big goals and getting the game-winning goal,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. ”Tonight we’re trying to scratch out some kind of offense in the third period, trying to push forward in this building and get the win. There’s nothing really fancy about him coming up big.”
Dubnyk stopped 22 shots but had his individual scoreless streak end at 183:16. Granlund scored his second goal for Minnesota, which had won three in a row and was unbeaten in four previous home games.
”It was frustrating,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”Sometimes it’s a frustrating team. It can play so good one period and not show up for the (next) period. Tonight, we didn’t show up in the first period.”
Dubnyk’s streak ended just three shots into the game. Dubnyk stopped Rasmus Ristolainen’s point shot, but O’Reilly had the rebound deflect off his skate directly to his stick for an easy score.
”I’m a big fan of wins and those shutouts are bonus,” Dubnyk said. ”It’s disappointing to have it end on a bounce like that, but a lot of fortunate bounces have to happen to get three in a row. So, we’ll let that one go and get ready for Saturday. ”
Granlund tied it on the game’s first power play. With Josh Gorges off for slashing and breaking Granlund’s stick, Pominville brought the puck into the offensive zone and dumped to Eric Staal.
Staal’s shot bounced to Granlund, who was streaking in. Granlund’s speed allowed him to get past a sprawling Lehner for the goal.
”I thought we came out hard today,” Lehner said. ”They came back and pushed back in the second period, and got some momentum going. But I think we held the fort together and I think that’s a very solid third period.”
NOTES: Buffalo D Zach Bogosian didn’t play the final two periods and was announced out with a knee injury. … Minnesota’s franchise-record scoreless streak was snapped at 184:59. … Sabres F Hudson Fasching, a Minnesota native, missed the game with a groin injury. The team recalled Justin Bailey from Rochester of the American Hockey League. … Staal has a five-game point streak, his longest since Jan. 2014. He has one goal and four assists in that span. … The road team has won 15 of the 20 games in the series between the two teams, including the past five.
Sabres: Return home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Wild: After three days off, they play Saturday at Colorado.
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