Series (Game 1 of 1)

Buffalo leads 1-0

Game 1: Saturday, March 24th

Wild 1

(31-33-10, 72 pts)

Sabres 3

(37-29-10, 84 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 24, 2012

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
MIN 1 0 01
BUF 0 1 23

M. Foligno (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Tropp (Sabres - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

J. Harding (Wild - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .944

Wild-Sabres Preview


The Buffalo Sabres are surging behind Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno.

They'll look for a fourth straight win Saturday night as they continue their pursuit of a playoff berth when they host the Minnesota Wild.

Buffalo (36-29-10) is 12-2-4 since Feb. 17, improving from 14th place in the Eastern Conference to currently being tied with Washington for eighth. The Sabres, who also trail seventh-place Ottawa by two points, were 10 points out of a spot before this hot streak.

"We're just trying to ride this wave as long as we can," Stafford said.

The line of Stafford, Ennis and Foligno has been a key, combining for eight points in Friday's 4-1 road win over the New York Rangers. The trio has totaled 33 points over a 5-0-2 stretch since Foligno was called up from the minors March 9.

The rookie has created a sense of excitement for the Sabres, who are eager for a strong finish.

"We've put a lot of work into getting to the position where we're at right now, but obviously we're not there yet," Stafford said. "We're not worried about the other teams around us. We know if we play well, take care of our business and win the games, we'll be sitting just fine. Right now we haven't accomplished anything."

Buffalo's opponents are 2 for 31 on the power play in the last 12 games. The Sabres do not figure to get much of a challenge from a Minnesota unit among the league's worst at 15.1 percent.

The Wild (31-32-10) have not won a road game in regulation since Feb. 2 and enter this two-game trip aware of how well their opponents are playing.

"They've got a good team, they play their game well, they know what it is and certainly a team like that they had some struggles earlier but quite often that can strengthen your group if you get through it the right way and they appear to be going in that direction," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said.

Yeo was forced to employ a depleted group of defensemen in Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Calgary. Jared Spurgeon left after getting elbowed in the head and Marco Scandella exited after blocking a shot with his hand.

Spurgeon won't play Saturday, but Scandella is expected to return.

"We think that he's going to be OK for tomorrow and barring some kind of setback in the morning, we would expect him to play," said Yeo about Scandella.

The Wild got healthier Thursday when captain Mikko Koivu returned from a shoulder injury after missing 15 games to center the top line with Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Minnesota, which is close to elimination, is seeking to win three straight for the first time since a season-high seven-game run Nov. 28-Dec. 10, 2011.

"We do have something to build off of as far as the last couple of games and with Mikko coming back, that does give us a lift I think," Yeo said.

The Sabres are 6-0-1 in their last seven at home, although the Wild have taken their last four visits to the First Niagara Center.