The Wild will be idle for the next eight days, but they should have some momentum waiting for them when they are back in action.
They have won two in a row after ditching a three-game skid, their 3-2 comeback in a shootout against the Sabres on Saturday in front of 19,212 at Xcel Energy Center lifting them to a 27-17-4 record going into their bye week and the All-Star break.
"It's way more fun to finish on a note like that," Wild center Frederick Gaudreau said. "Everybody's happy, and it's definitely a way better feeling than losing a game."
This result, which snapped Buffalo's five-game win streak, also elevated the Wild to third place in the Central Division with 58 points, one more than the reigning Stanley Cup champion Avalanche.
Mats Zuccarello, Kirill Kaprizov and Gaudreau capitalized in the shootout, with Kaprizov's tally his third career game-deciding goal and fifth in six tries this season. Since the start of last season, he's tied for second in the NHL with seven shootout goals.
"I see them in practices," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "I know how good they are. Just think to myself I've got to make a stop or two here, and we should be in good shape."
That's exactly what happened.
Fleury, who was making a third straight start for the first time since Dec. 4-9, denied Jack Quinn after Tage Thompson scored to help snag his NHL-record 63rd shootout win. He totaled 29 stops through regulation and overtime and improved to 7-3-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in his last 12 starts.
At the other end, Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 33 saves.
"We battled until the end," Fleury said.
Both teams were in make-or-break mode after the Wild rallied twice and Buffalo had an apparent buzzer-beater at the end of the second period called back.
Quinn sunk in the Wild into an early deficit when he converted on the Sabres' second shot only 2 minutes, 22 seconds into the first period after he intercepted a Wild clearing attempt and shrugged off pressure en route to the slot where he wired the puck by Fleury to cap off an impressive individual effort.
But the Wild responded just 1:13 later on the power play.
Joel Eriksson Ek dumped a Kaprizov handoff by Luukkonen before he could reset in the crease. The goal was Eriksson Ek's 18th and eighth on the power play, which is the second most on the team; Eriksson Ek hasn't gone more than a game without a point over the Wild's past 13 contests, recording 13 points in that span.
Kaprizov's assist extended his point streak to five games (seven points). As for the Wild power play, which finished 1-for-4, they've tallied a goal in five consecutive games to match their longest streak of the season. The Wild penalty kill also snuffed out Buffalo's lone power play, the Wild smartly not letting the NHL's top offense rack up minutes with the man advantage.
"One of the huge keys was that we only gave them one power play," coach Dean Evason said. "Those special players, they get their hands going, they start making some plays, they start feeling it, and then it rolls into the 5-on-5."
That 1-1 tie held until the second when the Sabres reclaimed the lead at 9:50 on a Zemgus Girgensons tap-in but like before, the Wild had a reply.
This time, captain Jared Spurgeon served up the equalizer, his one-timer off a Gaudreau pass eluding Luukkonen at 12:39.
"It was amazing," Spurgeon said of the feed from Gaudreau. "I didn't have to do too much, just sort of direct it at the net."
Not only was that Spurgeon's fourth goal in the last six games, but it tied him with Ryan Suter for the fourth-most points in franchise history at 369; the two are now also tied for the most points all-time by a Wild defenseman. His six shots also matched his season high.
Buffalo put the next puck in the net, a floater by Rasmus Dahlin, who had five points the last time these two teams faced off on Jan. 7 when the Sabres prevailed 6-5 in overtime. But video review determined the second period had expired before the puck crossed the goal line.
"It was a big break for us obviously," Spurgeon said.
The third period and overtime were goalless, with Spurgeon making one of his four shot blocks late in the regulation and Fleury also stopping a Thompson wrap-around before the Wild nabbed their second straight extra-time victory.
They snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday by edging the Flyers 3-2 in overtime.
"We talked about that in between the second and third," Spurgeon said. "We want to go in [the break] feeling good about ourselves. The last two games we played a lot better."