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Arizona’s late rally falls on own sword against Buffalo

Another case of too little, too late for the Coyotes who went down 5-4 in their first home game since Oct. 21.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dakota Mermis’ NHL debut and Antti Raanta’s return to action didn’t quite go to plan as the Arizona Coyotes fell to the Buffalo Sabres.

After taking the lead in the first period, Arizona gave up a goal with 0.9 seconds left on the clock before heading into the first intermission.

The late goal poisoned the Coyotes who then gave up another 4 across the second and third periods, compounding in to 5 straight brutal goals scored by the visiting Sabres.

The remainder of the match belonged to the Coyotes who were supercharged after Zac Rinaldo’s first goal in a Coyotes uniform. However, finding the net two more times was simply not enough as Arizona was once again beaten by the clock, their opponent and their own inexperience.

Scoring Summary

First Period

1-0 Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson opens the scoring for the night with his 2nd goal of the season after a beautiful pass from Christian Dvorak allows Max Domi to register his 100th NHL point by making a slick drop pass to OEL.

1-1 Tie: With 0.9 left in the first period the Coyotes seemingly believe the clock is going to save them. Instead, Kyle Okposo scores a typical goal against Arizona.

Second Period

2-1 Buffalo: A chip out of the neutral zone by the Sabres catches Ekman-Larsson and Arizona out of position. Coming in on the two on one against Jason Demers, Ryan O’Reilly completes a cross crease pass allowing Benoit Pouliot to score a straightforward goal past a desperate Raanta.

3-1 Buffalo: After coughing the puck up in their own offensive end, the Coyotes get caught on a 3-1 due to an unlucky line change by Arizona’s defenders. Again alone to defend, Demers is danced around by Seth Griffith who quickly turns the situation into a breakaway for himself. Griffith makes a nice move to freeze Raanta before going high on his backhand.

Third Period

4-1 Buffalo: The Sabres make it 4-1 with a shorthanded goal. After Demers has his shot blocked on the power play, he trips on his way to retrieve the puck and it falls to Evander Kane. Kane goes leisurely down the ice with Jack Eichel as no Coyotes are between them and Raanta, giving it back to one another before Kane slips it in back-door from extremely close range.

5-1 Buffalo: A 1-on-1 opportunity the Sabres’ way quickly turns into another breakaway when Luke Schenn falls down while defending, allowing Pouliot to dangle in his second of the night.

5-2 Buffalo: After coming close to scoring on two occasions earlier in the third period, Rinaldo breaks through when Demers shoots the puck from an extremely tight angle that bounces into the net off Rinaldo’s body. It was his first goal since 2015 and Brad Richardson was awarded the second assist on the play.

5-3 Buffalo: From left wing, Jordan Martinook puts the puck on Robin Lehner who makes the save to his right but spills the puck right into the slot. Charging down with speed, Nick Cousins quickly collects the rebound and scores. Kevin Connauton collected the secondary assist.

5-4 Buffalo: With Raanta pulled for an extra attacker, Dvorak throws the puck through traffic which finds the back of the net, assisted by Demers.

Three Answers

What type of goaltending will we get? Arizona yet again gave up a basket of goals, with Antti Raanta allowing 5 goals from 31 Sabres shots in his return. No Buffalo goal however can solely be placed on Raanta however as he made the saves he needed to and didn’t get a lot of support from the Coyotes’ blueliners.

Will the special teams improve? Arizona’s dismal power play continued tonight, going 0/2, with one particular power play opportunity wasted when the game was in the balance. In the other, they gave up a short-handed goal. Their penalty kill was excellent though, keeping Buffalo’s extra-man unit scoreless for the night from two opportunities.

Can the Yotes win again? Yes they can win again, but they certainly didn’t look like it for most of tonight.

Players of the Game

Arizona Coyotes - Jason Demers - Finished the night with 2 assists and a +1 [n plus/minus. Seems to be fitting in nicely alongside OEL and is getting better at situational awareness. Though unable to stop any of the goals Buffalo scored, he was often the lone defender back and did his best to thwart their plans.

Buffalo Sabres - Benoit Pouliot - What a name, right? Oh yeah - 2 goals and an an assist is also pretty snazzy.

Media's Three Stars

1. BUF Benoit Pouliot (2G, 1A)

2. BUF Kyle Okposo (1G, 1A)

3. ARI Zac Rinaldo - A goal, 2 shots on goal and 4 hits. Good voice work too?

Paw Prints

  • For more on the Buffalo Sabres, check out Die by the Blade.
  • Niklas Hjalmarsson remained out and is now on IR.
  • Healthy scratches tonight included Mario Kempe and Adam Clendening as Anthony Duclair and Mermis took their spots in the squad. Clendening was also listed on waivers this morning.
  • Max Domi’s 100 NHL points is the fastest in Coyotes’ history, coming in 154 games. The fastest in franchise history is Teemu Selanne who managed 134 points in his rookie season in 1992/93 with the original Winnipeg Jets.
  • Tonight was Antti Raanta’s first action since the first period finished on October 12 against the Detroit Red Wings.
  • In his NHL debut, Mermis finished with 10:07 minutes of ice time, -1 plus/minus, 1 shot on goal, 2 blocks, 1 hit and 1 giveaway.
  • Attendance: 11,477

The Road Ahead

Arizona will have a night off before facing the Carolina Hurricanes at Gila River Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time.