GLENDALE -- Lost in the shuffle of the wacky ending to the game on Monday night in Buffalo, the Coyotes earned a point and jumped ahead of Minnesota for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
It’s a footnote, but an important one for a team that won’t be back on the ice until the morning skate for Friday’s home game vs. San Jose.
"It's never fun losing, especially when you have to sit on it for a few days," defenseman Keith Yandle said after the 2-1 loss to Buffalo on Monday. "I think we just have to try to do our best to enjoy the holidays and then worry about San Jose."
The Coyotes have 45 points after 36 games. The Wild also have 45 points but they've played 39 games. Thus, Phoenix gets the nod for No. 8 in the standings.
The Coyotes head into the NHL’s three-day holiday hiatus trailing seventh-place Colorado by four points. When play resumes on Friday, Phoenix will play seven of its next eight games on home ice where it has posted a 10-3-2 record.
Here’s the NHL’s official explanation for allowing Mark Pysyk’s overtime goal on Monday night that gave Buffalo a 2-1 win:
"At 3:47 of overtime in the Coyotes/Sabres game, video review supported the referee's call on the ice that Mark Pysyk's shot deflected into the air and landed in goaltender Mike Smith's equipment and, while attempting to make the save, Smith's momentum propelled him and the puck completely across the goal line. Good goal Buffalo."
Center Antoine Vermette is having a sensational season for the Coyotes and is arguably the leading candidate for Team MVP at the Christmas break.
Check out some of his stats:
• Ranks tied for 1st on team with 12 goals
• Ranks 1st on team and 6th in NHL with a 58.1 face-off percentage
• Ranks 1st on team and 2nd in NHL with 480 face-off wins
• Ranks 1st on team and 1st in NHL with 80 shorthanded face-off wins
• Ranks 1st among Coyotes forwards with 32 blocked shots
• Ranks 1st among Coyotes forwards in ice time with 19:24 per game
Because of his fine play, Vermette also is emerging as a candidate for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the League’s best defensive forward.
Forward Tim Kennedy played in front of about 50 friends/family members on Monday night. Kennedy is from Buffalo and spends his summers there. He also broke into the NHL with the Sabres in 2008 and played 79 games for his hometown team before moving on.
Monday's game was Kennedy's fifth vs. the Sabres. He assisted on Martin Hanzal's goal for his first point against his former team.
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