Sabres look to avenge earlier loss to Coyotes (Mar 02, 2017)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Less than one week after the Arizona Coyotes handed the Buffalo Sabres a devastating loss that all but ended Buffalo’s playoff hopes, the teams are set to meet again.

Buffalo and Arizona will play their second and final game against each other in Buffalo on Thursday at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, the Coyotes (22-33-7) overcame a 2-0 deficit with three unanswered goals in the third period to come away with a 3-2 win over the Sabres (26-26-11). The Sabres had been making a push for the postseason by winning four of five games leading up to their bye week, but have lost four straight since then — including the big loss to Arizona on Feb. 26.

Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Sabres sit six points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference (having played one more game than the current wild-card team, Toronto).

“It’s the same thing, it’s almost like a broken record,” Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe said after a 5-4 overtime loss to Nashville on Tuesday. “We say the right things, but it comes to the point where you got to go out and execute. It comes down to execution.”

On Tuesday, the Sabres surrendered a two-goal lead on two separate occasions. Nashville’s Filip Forsberg evened the score late in the third period before burying the game-winner in overtime.

“It’s being fragile,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said.” It’s being a young team trying to find our way. When we’ve got those leads, we can’t sit back.”

The Sabres didn’t make a single trade at the trade deadline, with Gionta one of several players on the trade block.

The Coyotes also did not make any major deadline deals, with their lone swap involving minor league players. Veterans Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata will remain with the team for the remainder of the season after hearing their names involved with rumors and speculation in recent weeks.

“We just made a decision that we’re still trying to grow here, have a competitive team and finish off the season well with our good young group,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “Radim was a guy that unless it was a great offer, we were going to keep him. You set your threshold and we were looking around to see if we could maximize our return like any player we have. We just decided at the end of the day to keep him.”

The Coyotes did make two significant trades in the weeks leading up to the deadline, sending Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to Minnesota and Michael Stone to Calgary.

“I thought we accomplished a lot of what we were looking to do,” Chayka said. “Obviously we were able to accrue quite a few picks — we got a first, second, third, conditional fourth, another second, a fifth. That’s a pretty good haul. A lot of what we did too was try to set some groundwork for the expansion draft. It’s an opportunity we think to add some good players for us. I thought that was important for us.”

Arizona is coming off a 4-1 loss to Boston on Tuesday. Vrbata leads the team in points with 47 (15 goals, 32 assists).