Roy helps Sabres hand Wild first loss

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- A late collapse overwhelmingly

negated the fact that the Minnesota Wild stayed perfect in

regulation.

Derek Roy scored 44 seconds into overtime after a late

third-period surge as the Buffalo Sabres handed the Wild their

first loss of the season with a 4-3 victory on Thursday.

Adam Mair and Thomas Vanek scored 46 seconds apart in the final

four minutes of the third to erase a two-goal deficit for

Buffalo (6-0-1), which avoided its first loss in regulation.

"We've been showing this all year," Vanek said. "Obviously,

it's not something we look for, to be down late in the game, but

it shows good character for the team - never quitting."

This marked the first time the Wild have squandered a two-goal

lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation and

lost since December 16, 2001, when they suffered a 3-2 home

defeat to the Colorado Avalanche.

Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire noted his team's lack of

aggressiveness in its own end in the final minutes as a main

reason for the deflating loss.

"It was a couple of plays that we're hoping to get the puck,"

Lemaire said. "We get out of position and they make a play and

it's in the net."

The Wild (4-0-1), who entered as the only team still owning a

perfect record this season, scored three unanswered goals after

Drew Stafford netted his second in as many games in the first

period to give the Sabres a 1-0 edge.

Minnesota also was the last club remaining with an unblemished

mark last season. That distinction went to the Sabres in

2006-07, when they began the campaign with 10 straight wins.

Benoit Pouliot fired a slap shot from the right faceoff circle

past goaltender Ryan Miller - who made 30 saves - at 9:57 of the

second to forge a 1-1 tie. Less than five minutes later,

Stephane Veilleux beat Miller with a wrist shot to give the Wild

a 2-1 advantage.

"The second period was great for us," Minnesota goaltender

Niklas Backstrom said. "It feels bad to lose a game like this,

but it's hockey. We have to learn from this and be sharp and

strong in the future."

Defenseman Brent Burns extended Minnesota's lead with a

power-play tally 29 seconds into the third. Burns stole a

clearing attempt from Miller on the left side and fired a wrist

shot into the open net for his first goal of the season.

"It was good for us to stick with it, especially the way the

third period started," Miller said. "That was about the most

embarrassing thing I've done in my life. I took my eye off it

to see where I could put it, and when I looked back down, the

puck wasn't where I thought it would be. I figured if I played

long enough, I'd make the blooper reel."

However, Backstrom was unable to preserve the lead down the

stretch.

After Mair cut the deficit to 3-2 with exactly four minutes

remaining and Vanek registered his league-leading eighth goal of

the season, Roy completed the comeback in dramatic fashion.

"It was a tough goal to start the third, having that bad

bounce," Roy said. "That killed our momentum. We had to

respond. We got a lucky bounce on the first goal and went to

work after that."

"We're going to carry every win we can get," Buffalo coach Lindy

Ruff said. "You've got to win a little bit ugly sometimes and

you've got to get lucky."

Roy took a pass from behind the net by defenseman Henrik

Tallinder and slid the puck under Backstrom's pads from the

doorstep to hand the Wild their first loss in nine home games

dating to last season.

"(The rally) kind of killed our momentum," Pouliot said. "We

got a bad break, and it just trickled in pretty much. I mean,

we have to come back on Saturday for a big win."

Backstrom made 20 saves but fell to 11-0-5 in his last 16

decisions since a regulation loss to Chicago on March 4.

"I thought it was our best game," Lemaire said. "We were on

them, we didn't give them a lot. It's a team that if you let

them play, they can hurt you, and they did."

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