Unfortunately, even Smith’s efforts were not enough, as the Coyotes fell 6-3 to the Sabres. Arizona surrendered 41 shots to Buffalo in the process.
1-0 Arizona - The Coyotes got on the board first thanks to a great two-on-one executed by Max Domi and new arrival Teemu Pulkkinen. Pulkkinen fed Domi first, who forced Robin Lehner to bite on the shot. Domi then passed it back over to Pulkkinen, who had a gaping net to score his first as a Coyote into. Assists to Domi and Christian Dvorak on the goal at 7:54.
1-1 Tie - Buffalo got on the board while down a man, as Ryan O’Reilly outmaneuvered two Coyotes in the far-side corner by Mike Smith to get inside position. He found Marcus Foligno all alone for an easy shorthanded goal. Assists to O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen on the shorthanded goal at 11:54.
2-1 Buffalo - With some carryover time on a Teemu Pulkkinen minor penalty late in the first, the Sabres started off the second period strong on a Ryan O’Reilly one-timer. O’Reilly set up shop on the far-side just above the faceoff dot, and Jack Eichel found him for the goal. Assists to Eichel and Kyle Okposo on the power play goal at :57.
2-2 Tie - Tobias Rieder answered Buffalo’s shorthanded goal with one of his own, as he skated around Dmitry Kulikov and skated around a sprawling Robin Lehner for an easy shortie. No assists on the shorthanded goal at 2:05.
3-2 Buffalo - Turns out that Jack Eichel kid was a pretty good pick by Buffalo. *sniffle* Anyways, Eichel was in perfect position in the near-side faceoff circle to one-time a nifty Sam Reinhart backhand pass from right in front of the net. Assists to Reinhart and Kyle Okposo on the power play goal at 11:08.
3-3 Tie - Alex Goligoski ties the game midway through the third period on a seeing-eye shot that made its way through multiple bodies from the point and past Robin Lehner. Assists to Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tobias Rieder on the goal at 8:20.
4-3 Buffalo - A brutal turnover in the neutral zone quickly evolved into a three-on-two for the Sabres. Evander Kane’s one-timer from the high-slot put the Sabres up late in the third. Assists to Ryan O’Reilly and Jake McCabe on the goal at 14:24.
5-3 Buffalo - Arizona emptied the net with less than two minutes to go, but the puck never reached the offensive zone. Marcus Foligno was eventually able to make the Coyotes’ blue-line and shovel the puck in. Assists to Jack Eichel and Cody Franson on the empty-net goal at 18:17.
6-3 Buffalo - Sam Reinhart added a cherry to the top of Buffalo’s win with a very late empty-netter that banked off of the skate of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and in. No assists on the empty-net goal at 19:56.
- Which players show signs of life? - Teemu Pulkkinen scored in his first game with the Coyotes, so that was good. Tobias Rieder also had a nice shorthanded goal early in the second period.
- Can Mike Smith shake off the rust? - Smith stopped 35 of 39 shots tonight, and probably would have fared better were it not for some brutal defensive miscues in front of him.
- Will we get any craziness? - Apart from two shorthanded goals in one game, nothing particularly ridiculous went down tonight.
Players of the Game
Arizona - Mike Smith - Smith faced a heavy workload tonight, but looked much sharper than he did against Boston. He was Arizona’s best player, and the only reason they were close all night long.
Buffalo - Ryan O’Reilly - O’Reilly had a goal and two primary assists on Buffalo’s non-empty net goals. He, Evander Kane, and Jack Eichel are a lethal set of forwards for the Sabres to build around.
- For more on the Buffalo Sabres, check out Die by the Blade
- Anthony Duclair was still en route to Buffalo today, and so did not dress for tonight’s game. He may play against Carolina tomorrow.
- Arizona conceded a shorthanded goal for the second consecutive game.
- Tobias Rieder scored Arizona’s sixth shorthanded goal this season. They had four all of last year.
- Kevin Connauton left the game early in the third period after taking a hard hit from Marcus Foligno along the boards. The hit was clean, but Connauton landed awkwardly on his left arm.
- Arizona was outshot by Buffalo 31-10 through two periods, and 41-22 on the game overall.
- Radim Vrbata had no points tonight, breaking a ten game points streak.
Arizona flies off to Raleigh tomorrow to begin a home-and-home with the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is at 5:30 Arizona time.