Tue, 21 May 2019

Sabres hope to heat up again vs. Coyotes

Sports Xchange
13 Dec 2018, 15:16 GMT+10

The Arizona Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres go into their game at KeyBank Centre on Thursday night after contrasting results in their games Tuesday night.

The Coyotes could not hold a two-goal lead, allowing four goals in five minutes during the second period, and lost 4-3 to the Boston Bruins.

The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period and defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in overtime.

The Coyotes (13-14-2) led 2-0 in Boston before the Bruins scored twice in 33 seconds apart. Brad Marchand gave the Bruins the lead about two minutes later and added another two minutes later.

"It was those three minutes," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "We played a good hockey game for 50. Two-nothing, there, we backed off again. It's very frustrating. We cannot back off. That's something that we've got to keep pressing here. It's a learning process."

The Sabres (18-9-4), who wrap up a four-game homestand Thursday, had a different story to tell. It was about hard work down the stretch to overcome a 3-1 deficit that ended a five-game winless streak.

"I think in the third we just committed to putting the puck in their end and just trying to wear them down," Sabres center and captain Jack Eichel said. "You see it, we draw a couple penalties, our power play is able to score a few goals. I thought we just wore them down."

"I think when the guys dug in and found a way to win it's because of their work, especially in the third period," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We were moving our feet. our transition game was really solid, clean and crisp."

The Sabres were 0-3-2 in the five games after reeling off 10 straight wins and were coming off a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, a game they led 2-0.

The Sabres are facing a testing schedule with two road games in Boston and Washington Saturday and Sunday after they play the Coyotes.

"We've got a tough stretch coming up here," Eichel said. "Arizona's playing some good hockey and then you've got a back-to-back against two of the top teams in the East. We've just got to start playing a better 60 minutes. We can learn from that third period and what makes our team successful and why we're good. I think there's some things to be learned but it's good to get two points, because we needed it."

The Sabres are 6-7-2 when trailing after two periods.

Eichel has had success against the Coyotes with 10 points in seven career games against Arizona. Kyle Okposo (one goal, six assists) and Jeff Skinner (three goals, four assists) each has seven points in their past six games against the Coyotes and Rasmus Ristolainen (two goals, six assists) has eight points in nine career games against them.

Arizona defenseman Alex Goligoski has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 23 career games against the Sabres.

Coyotes center Alex Galchenyuk missed the game Tuesday because of a lower-body injury and is considered day to day.

Arizona did have goaltender Darcy Kuemper back Tuesday after he missed nearly three weeks with a lower-body injury and stopped 22 of 26 shots. His best save came on a breakaway by Marchand in the first period.

"I was pretty happy with a lot of parts of my game today," Kuemper said. "A few things, just some reads and timing, I've got to watch the video and get a little bit better at, but overall I felt pretty good in there."

Michael Bunting, recalled from the American Hockey League last Friday, scored Arizona's third goal in his NHL debut Tuesday.

"I thought it went pretty well," Bunting said. "At the start, I had my jitters. Right when the national anthem hit, it was like 'All right, I'm in an NHL game.' After that I just played simple at the start of the game and I was lucky enough to put one by the goalie. ... To get that under my belt in the first game is pretty special. I'm going to remember that for the rest of my life."

Arizona defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson logged 20:39 in ice time and blocked three shots in his 700th NHL game on Tuesday, the 15th player from the 2005 NHL Draft class to reach that plateau.

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