Coyotes 4, Sabres 2
Paul Bissonnette is better known for his Twitter account than his scoring ability. He sure picked a perfect time for this goal.
Bissonnette, playing in front of his mother for the first time as an NHL player, scored a tiebreaking goal in the Phoenix Coyotes' 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
A native of nearby Welland, Ontario - about 25 miles away from Buffalo - Bissonnette scooped up a rebound to give Phoenix a 3-2 lead with 10:19 left in the second period. The goal came just 66 seconds after teammate Radim Vrbata tied it on a wrist shot from the left circle.
''Especially to share it with family and a lot of friends, it's a pretty special thing,'' said Bissonnette, who hadn't played since Oct. 29. ''(Kyle Chipchura) put a shot on the pad and it kicked out right to me. I just tried to get it on net and luckily it went through the wickets.''
Bissonnette said his mother, Yolande, has been ill the last two years, and she has progressed enough that the 40-minute drive ''felt right.'' She sat along the glass with his grandparents.
''My grandpa can't hear very much, so to get him out of the house to do anything is special,'' he said. ''It's a good day.''
About 50 more family and friends bought their own tickets and gave Bissonnette a rousing cheer when he paid a postgame visit to the stands.
As for his Twitter account, which has over 172,000 followers, Bissonnette cracked: ''It's probably blowing up big time.''
More importantly for Phoenix, it was the third victory in the first four games of the Coyotes' five-game trip, and improved the team's road record to 6-2-1.
Vrbata added an empty net goal with 1:11 to play, and Shane Doan also scored for Phoenix. Mike Smith made 43 saves for the Coyotes, but only faced 15 shots after Bissonnette's goal.
Luke Adam and Patrick Kaleta scored for Buffalo, which has lost two of its last three games while goaltender Ryan Miller is sidelined with a concussion. Jhonas Enroth, fresh from a 34-save shutout on Friday at Carolina, made 25 stops in his fourth straight start since Miller's injury.
Doan opened the scoring seven minutes in, connecting on a slap shot from above the right circle. Adam tied it five minutes later, winning a faceoff and then tipping in a point shot by Jordan Leopold.
Kaleta provided Buffalo with its only lead in the opening minute of the second period, batting in a rebound.
After Vrbata and Bissonnette posted their goals, Buffalo was unable to regain momentum.
''That's when the game turned,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ''They pushed hard early, but when we got those two quick ones that was the push back we needed. We carried play from the second half of the second period.''
''We missed too many opportunities,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. ''Point blank. We missed empty nets. We hit a few posts. It isn't good enough. If you want to win a game and come out with that much energy, you have to put those chances away.''
Buffalo played the entire third period without defenseman Tyler Myers. Ruff stated Myers has an ''upper body injury'' and would be re-evaluated Sunday.
NOTES: The Sabres had a moment of silence before the game for Milt Ellis, the team's original public address announcer. Ellis, a member of the team's Hall of Fame who announced from 1970 until 1996, passed away earlier Saturday. ... Phoenix is the least-penalized team in the NHL, averaging 8.3 minutes per game. Raffi Torres incurred all seven of the Coyotes' minutes against Buffalo. ... Coyotes F Taylor Pyatt, who also played for Buffalo from 2001 to 2006, played in his 700th career game. ... Sabres C Cody McCormick missed a third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Patrick O'Sullivan and Daymond Langkow were scratched for Phoenix. ... Buffalo fell to 5-6 at home.