Before facing off against the New York Islanders the Arizona Coyotes had been great in their wins and solid in their losses. But against the Islanders, they were beaten at their own game. The next day they would face off against the New Jersey Devils though, and they were able to bounce back and earn a 5-3 win.
Things didn’t start well for the Coyotes in that game. The Devils would score the first two goals, and up until the final minute it looked like they would go into the second down 2-0. But the Coyotes flipped the normal script with Nick Schmaltz getting his fourth of the season with just 17 seconds left in the first.
The Coyotes would score four of the next five goals of the game. Michael Grabner would net the Coyotes their first short-handed goal of the season just over two minutes into the second giving the Coyotes the tie. And while Pavel Zacha would give the Devils another lead at 13:07 in the first, the Coyotes would bounce back over half a minute later with Oliver Ekman-Larsson getting his second of the season. The Devils would outshoot the Coyotes in the third period 11-6, but Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller would score the only goals of the period.
After starting the season only scoring once in their first two games, it’s great that the Coyotes have been getting these high offense games. The team’s lines had to be moved around a bit with Brad Richardson missing the game with an upper-body injury, but luckily it didn’t hurt the team too much. The penalty kill may have allowed another goal, not the best trend, but Grabner getting a short-handed goal is a welcome throwback to last season. And while the team was badly outshot 35-17 in the game, getting timely goals may have contributed to a more conservative style of play.
Don’t look now, but the Buffalo Sabres are leading the Eastern Conference with 19 points in 12 games. Few people would have predicted that the Sabres would be this good to start the season, and if headlines are to be believed it’s tough to know what to make of this hot start.
If you look at the Sabres’ roster the fact that they are finding success shouldn’t be too surprising. They currently have four players, Jack Eichel, Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Dahlin, with 10 or more points on the season. Three of those players are top 2 picks, with the Sabres striking gold getting Olofsson in the seventh-round of the 2014 draft.
Buffalo also played on Friday, getting a 2-0 shut out against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and second from the last in the Eastern Conference. With an opponent like that, it’s not surprising that the Sabres got the win, but after a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers, Buffalo also showed what they could do with a bounce-back effort.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - With the first goal of the night and the primary assist on Hayton’s game-winning goal, Schmaltz has been excellent this season. Until the Islanders, he was riding a six-game win streak and seems poised to start another.
Buffalo: Sam Reinhart - Reinhart had a goal and an assist against the Red Wings and has three points in the past three games. He has three 20+ goal seasons in the past four seasons and with 5 goals he seems poised for another this season.
Arizona: Brad Richardson (questionable, upper body), Jordan Oesterle (head), Niklas Hjalmarsson (leg)
Buffalo: Jimmy Vesey (upper body), Marco Scandella (lower body), Brandon Montour (questionable, hand), Matt Hunwick (neck), Zach Bogosian (hip)
Tonight's game will again be at 4:00 pm Arizona and will be featured on NHLN, TVAS, Fox Sports Arizona and will air on Fox Sports 910 AM.