Coyotes stumble late in 6-3 loss to Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Rather than lament blowing yet another third-period lead, Ryan O’Reilly and the Buffalo Sabres finally did something about it.
O’Reilly’s no-look backhand pass set up Evander Kane for the go-ahead goal with 5:36 remaining, and Marcus Foligno and Sam Reinhart scored empty-netters in the final two minutes to secure a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
“We weren’t affected by it,” said O’Reilly, referring to Alex Goligoski’s goal that tied the game 3 with 11:20 remaining. “We all knew that we needed to start generating more offense and getting the puck in. Once we did that, we got some breaks and took control.”
O’Reilly and Jack Eichel had a goal and assist each, and Robin Lehner made 19 saves in helping Buffalo snap an 0-3-1 skid.
Newly acquired forward Teemu Pulkkinen and Tobias Rieder also scored for the Coyotes, who lost for the fourth time in five games, and fourth straight on the road. Radim Vrbata had a career-best 10-game point streak end, and Mike Smith stopped 35 shots.
The Sabres didn’t make it look easy in a game they controlled in every statistical category but the scoreboard through 50 minutes.
It was a game in which Buffalo outshot the Coyotes 31-10 through two periods and 41-22 overall. And it was nearly reminiscent of the Sabres’ previous two losses, both featuring third-period collapses.
Buffalo’s trouble began in a 3-2 loss at Arizona on Sunday, when Vrbata capped a three-goal third-period surge by scoring with 19 seconds left. The Sabres followed by squandering a 4-2 lead in a 5-4 overtime loss to Nashville on Tuesday.
They weren’t going to make it three in a row.
“They’re not a very good hockey team, let’s be real here,” Kane said, referring to the Pacific Division’s last-place team. “I think we squeaked one out, but we’ve got to stay aggressive and stay on the attack.”
Kane scored his team-leading 23rd goal of the season a little over six minutes after Goligoski scored by firing in a shot through a crowd from just inside the blue line.
O’Reilly started the play by bursting over the Coyotes’ blue line and driving to the left circle. Faking a shot, he made a behind-the-back pass to Kane, who one-timed the shot from the slot.
The Coyotes managed just four shots on net in the final 5 minutes.
“Not much emotion in our group tonight, which is disappointing,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “We had a little push in the third where we were a little better, but just not enough execution through our group, and not enough will to win.”
Tippett wondered if the uncertainty over who might be on the move before the NHL’s trade deadline on Wednesday might have been a factor.
“I think it emotionally took a lot out of a lot of people in our room and unfortunately that’s the result of that,” he said.
The Coyotes stood pat at the deadline after making two trades earlier in the week, including a deal thatsent Martin Hanzal to Minnesota on Sunday.
Arizona’s power-play unit went 0 for 2 and gave up a short-handed goal. And the Coyotes gave up two power-play goals, though Rieder scored to tie the game at 2 on a short-handed breakaway.
NOTES: Eichel extended his career-best point streak to eight games, in which he has combined for two goals and nine assists. … Coyotes C Alexander Burmistrov did not play after being carted off the ice on a stretcher after being leveled by a hit from Bruins defenseman Colin Miller in the second period of Arizona’s 4-1 loss at Boston on Tuesday. Burmistrov was briefly hospitalized, but was cleared in time to travel with the team to Buffalo. … Coyotes LW Anthony Duclair was a healthy scratch after being recalled from the minors, where he spent the past six weeks.
Coyotes: Close three-game road trip at Carolina on Friday.
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