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Sabres at Wild: Five Things to Know

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As road rinks go, XCel Energy Center has been a friendly one for the Buffalo Sabres over the years and they're here in frigid Minnesota to start a three-game road trip Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. Faceoff is shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern on MSG and WGR Radio, with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call.

The Sabres have points in nine of their last 12 games (4-3-5) while the Wild are 3-1 overall in their last four -- and 10-1-1 in their last 12 games at home.

Here are Five Things to Know:

1. The road is kind when these teams meet: The Buffalo-Minnesota series has been utterly bizarre since the Wild joined the NHL in 2000. The road team has 16 of the 21 games -- including six in a row. Buffalo's last loss here was on Nov. 13, 2014. The Wild are 9-2 all-time in KeyBank Center, posting a 5-4 victory when they visited on Nov. 22.

"Last year they were in the same boat. We beat them in their building, they came in here, we took them lightly and they beat us," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said today. "If we do that again, then it's shame on us. We have to be ready to play. There's no easy team in the NHL and they've got some pretty good players over there."

Sabres Notebook: Wild are red-hot at home

2. Overtime has not been kind: The Sabres have had three straight games decided by an overtime goal, going 1-0-2 in them. If tonight's game goes past 60 minutes, it will be the first time they've been tied through regulation for four straight games since going 2-0-2 (three shootouts) from March 10-17, 2002.

The Sabres have had an overtime goal decide four straight games just once in their history, going 1-0-3 from March 11-17, 2004. Buffalo has an NHL-high nine overtime losses this season, and also leads the league with eight losses coming on game-deciding goals.

3. Only one change to the lineup from the Winter Classic version: Based on the morning skate, Justin Falk will be in for Josh Gorges. Everything else remains the same, meaning Scott Wilson is a healthy scratch. Victor Antipin remains home with the flu.

4. The goalies have a lot of career success against the opponent:

Robin Lehner vs. the Wild: 2-1-1, 1 shutout, 1.34 GAA , .952 save percentage
Devin Dubnyk vs. the Sabres: 4-2-0, 2 shutouts, 1.83 GAA, .935 save percentage

5. The Wild are in a brutally tight Central Division, where all seven teams have compiled a points percentage over .550. Boudreau said today he thinks it might take 97 points to make the playoffs out of the Western Conference and Minnesota hits the halfway mark of the schedule only on a 94-point pace. The Wild have made the playoffs five straight years but have not advanced past the second round in any of them.

"It's not far from being there," Boudreau said. "Our standards are pretty high so we haven't been satisifed with what's been going on. At the same time, I don't think it would take much to get us playing the way we want to play."


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