At one point in the afternoon, it didn’t look like last night’s game was going to happen. Several members of the Buffalo Sabres were forced to enter the COVID-19 protocol, and things weren’t looking good. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the game would go on as scheduled, but the Sabres would be down three players and assistant coach Matt Ellis.
With Buffalo missing multiple players, it looked like this would be a golden opportunity for the Arizona Coyotes to break their losing streak. It looked even better when the Sabres announced that Craig Anderson would be playing in his first game since November 2nd. But in the words of Admiral Gial Ackbar, “it’s a trap.”
Things went from bad to worse for the Sabres less than three minutes game when Christian Fischer and Will Butcher got tangled up in front of the net and went into the boards. Butcher favored his leg after he got up, not putting any pressure on it on his way back to the room. He would not return for the rest of the game and was limited to 53 seconds.
The Coyotes definitely looked like a team that had played the night before and seemed mildly sluggish to start. Neither team was playing poorly, but neither team was able to gain control of the game.
All of that changed when Lawson Crouse was called for hooking, and the Sabres got the game’s first power play. Kyle Okposo found some room in the faceoff circle and fired the puck past Karel Vejmelka and into the back of the net.
Arizona would get their first power play not long after but failed to convert. Things went from bad to worse late in the first when Casey Mittelstadt and Peyton Krebs came in on a 2-on-1, and Krebs scored his third of the season.
The first period ended with the Coyotes down 2-0 and needing to kill another penalty. Arizona managed to kill that second penalty, but we all know bad things happen to the Coyotes in the second period.
This season, the Coyotes have been displaying a nasty habit of completely collapsing for stretches of games, usually in the second period. And they did again last night, the results just weren’t as apparent.
The Buffalo Sabres added a goal to their lead, with Alex Tuch getting his fourth of the season. The Coyotes were also outshot 18-5 and had to kill almost two minutes of 4-on-3. Against any other team, the collapse probably would have been more extravagant, but the Coyotes still had a terrible second that likely cost them the game.
Thankfully, the Coyotes did come alive a bit in the third. Arizona got the final power play of the game midway through the period Mattias Samuelsson was called for holding Alex Galchenyuk, and they were determined not to get shut out.
The Desert Dogs did a good job moving the puck around and were firmly posted in front of Anderson. Shayne Gostisbehere picked up a pass from Clayton Keller above the faceoff circles and fired, giving the Coyotes their lone goal of the evening.
Arizona didn’t give up and took the extra step of pulling Vejmelka with 4:06 left in the regulation. And the Coyotes certainly made Anderson work with the extra attacker, but they could not find another goal.
The Coyotes definitely looked like they played the night before, but that’s no excuse. A poorly timed penalty and a terrible second period led to a loss against a very beatable team. The Coyotes have dropped five in a row and will need to find some way to reset before their next game.
Saturday night squad. pic.twitter.com/P6O6ffqFcv— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 30, 2022
- Peyton Krebs - Game-winning goal and an assist
- Alex Tuch - goal and an assist
- Shayne Gostisbehere - goal
The Coyotes are back on the road and will face off against the Colorado Avalanche this Tuesday at 7:00 pm Arizona time.