BUFFALO – Tim Connolly notched two goals and two assists to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-1 victory over the Coyotes Friday night at HSBC Arena.
Playing its second road game in two nights, Phoenix went 1 for 6 on power plays and lost in Buffalo for the first time since Jan. 5, 1997, a span of eight games.
The Sabres (33-25-7) jumped all over the Coyotes in the first period and scored two goals before the game was nine minutes old. The Coyotes never fully recovered despite decent pressure in the Buffalo zone for most of the third period.
Trailing 3-0, Matthew Lombardi scored his first goal since being traded to the Coyotes on Wednesday at 6:52 of the third period. Petr Puchra, also acquired Wednesday, earned his first point with Phoenix by feeding Lombardi down low on a power play.
“They capitalized on a couple of chances early on us and it’s tough to play catch-up here,” Lombardi said. “But the guys worked hard and we had some opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize.”
Connolly ended an 11-game goal-scoring drought when he redirected a shot from the point by Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 7:07 of the first period. The Sabres bumped their lead to 2-0 at 8:25 when defenseman Andrej Sekera ripped a one-timer through Bryzgalov’s pads moments after Connolly won a faceoff against Coyotes center Steven Reinprecht in the Phoenix zone.
...we didn’t capitalize on the power play when we could have gotten ourselves back in the game.”- Keith Yandle
Tempers flared early in the second period after Coyotes defenseman Ken Klee checked Sabres forward Maxim Afinogenov into the boards behind the Phoenix net in retaliation of a hit that Buffalo forward Patrick Kaleta put on Klee a shift earlier. Both captains – Shane Doan and Craig Rivet – took exception to the physical play and nearly fought each other. Rivet received a 10-minute misconduct penalty for knocking Klee to the ice.
The Coyotes (28-32-5) had three full power plays and two partial power plays in the second period, but they could not get the puck past Sabres goalie Patrick Lalime, who filled in for injured starter Ryan Miller (ankle sprain). Meanwhile, Buffalo needed only six seconds to capitalize on its second power play and upped its lead to 3-0 when Connolly notched his second goal of the game at 14:17 of the middle period.
“I thought we played pretty hard, and we did the little things pretty good and hits guys and stuck up for one another,” Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said. “But we didn’t capitalize on the power play when we could have gotten ourselves back in the game.”
Lalime finished with 29 saves.
“Ryan's a top goalie in this league and I told him the last five months I've been taking a lot of notes watching him play,” Lalime told reporters. “I'm trying to have some fun and do my job.”
Coyotes rookie Viktor Tikhonov tries to knock the puck past Sabres goalie Patrick Lalime. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images).
Lalime made a key save to keep the score 2-0 early in the second period on shot by Coyotes rookie Viktor Tikhonov from close range.
Buffalo tacked on two cosmetic power-play goals within the game’s final three minutes and then tried to make the score 6-1 by stacking their power-play unit with four forwards to close out the game. That maneuver angered some of the Coyotes, and the teams did not leave the ice immediately after the final horn sounded.
“There was a lot going on tonight,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It was a chippy game, to say the least.”
"We understand Connolly had two goals and they want to go for the hat trick, but we don't understand using four forwards with a D-man when it's a 5-1 game with a minute to go. That's disrespectful to the other team, and it causes some emotion."
• Lombardi won 20 of 28 face-offs.
• Buffalo blocked 13 shots. Phoenix blocked only six.
• The Sabres, who entered the game ranked seventh in the NHL in killing penalties, killed 23 in a row before Lombardi’s goal.
• Former Coyotes goaltender Mikael Tellqvist, traded to Buffalo on Wednesday for a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, dressed but did not play.
• For the second game in a row, defenseman David Hale and forwards Brandon Prust, Enver Lisin, Todd Fedoruk and Daniel Winnik were Phoenix’s scratches. Buffalo scratched defensemen Teppo Numminen and Nathan Paetsch, and forwards Matt Ellis, Clarke MacArthur, Andrew Peters.
1 - 0 BUF
2 - 0 BUF
3 - 0 BUF
3 - 1 BUF