The Phoenix Coyotes would prefer to go into their Christmas
break on a winning streak. The Buffalo Sabres just snapped only
their second of the season.
The Coyotes look to conclude their four-game road trip with a
second straight victory over a struggling opponent when they visit
the NHL-worst Sabres on Monday night.
Phoenix (19-10-6) broke out of an offensive slump and snapped a
three-game slide with a 4-3 overtime win over Ottawa in overtime
The Coyotes had been limited to one goal in each game of the
losing streak, but Antoine Vermette matched those three goals on
his own against the Senators, scoring at 2:23 of OT to complete a
The former Ottawa player’s power-play goal with 2:13 left in
regulation forced the extra session.
“It was huge,” Vermette said. “They were crucial points because
the standings are so tight in the (Western Conference). It was a
good performance and we found a way to get the two points.”
Phoenix has a good chance to keep it going against the Sabres
(9-24-3) before the league takes a short break for the holiday.
Buffalo has won back-to-back games only twice this season, the
second streak ending with Saturday’s 4-1 road loss that closed a
home-and-home set with Boston.
The Coyotes resume play against Pacific Division-rival San Jose
next Friday, while the Sabres return to the ice the same night in
Phoenix could use another strong road performance from Vermette.
The center is tied with Shane Doan for the team lead with 12 goals,
nine of which have come away from home. Vermette has six points in
his past eight in Buffalo, but this will be his first game there
Doan, meanwhile, will miss his eighth straight with what the
team called a “form of Rocky Mountain fever,” a bacterial disease
that affects cells in the lining of blood vessels.
“Our medical team is on top of it,” said Phoenix general manager
Don Maloney. “Every day he seems like he’s getting a little better
and a little more energy and has started to exercise a little
Mike Smith was the star during the team’s most recent trip to
Buffalo, making 43 saves in a 4-2 victory on Nov. 19, 2011. He’s
won three straight against Sabres with a 1.33 goals-against
Smith, who stopped 37 shots against Ottawa, could get the nod
against a Sabres team averaging a league-low 1.67 goals.
“It’s tough to win in this league if you only have one line
going and a couple of other guys and a goaltender,” interim Sabres
coach Ted Nolan said. “Especially with us, we need a little bit
Buffalo, however, has recently shown some improvement by going
3-1-1 at home in December, including a pair of 4-2 victories in its
A win over Phoenix would give the Sabres their longest home
winning streak since a five-game run from Feb. 19-March 12,
Ryan Miller will likely be back in net after winning three
straight home starts behind a 1.62 GAA. He’s also won all four of
his meetings with the Coyotes, compiling a 0.99 GAA and one
shutout, though he hasn’t faced them since Jan. 8, 2011.
Jhonas Enroth, who made 35 saves Saturday, started opposite
Smith in the most recent matchup with Phoenix and stopped 25 of 28
Marcus Foligno has two goals and one assist over his past two
home games. He scored a goal, recorded an assist and got into a
fight against the Bruins on Thursday for the Gordie Howe hat