Red-hot Coyotes look to make it three straight
Thursday, 10.08.2009 / 7:00 PM
COYOTES (2-0-0) at SABRES (0-0-1)
: First of two meetings this season between inter-conference opponents. Buffalo swept a pair of games from Phoenix in 2008-09, with Ryan Miller
recording a 28-save shutout in a 2-0 victory on Jan. 31, and Tim Connolly netting a pair of goals to spur a 5-1 triumph on March 6. Connolly led all scorers in the two games with three goals.
: The Sabres' four-goal win over the Coyotes at HSBC Arena last season was actually their first in eight home games against Phoenix dating all the way back to Jan. 5, 1997 – the first season after the franchise relocated from Winnipeg. In other words, this historically hasn't been a good matchup for Buffalo, which will have to make a point that its Western Conference visitors don't feel so comfortable.
-- It's still a little soon to be mentioning Phoenix among the Western Conference's elite, but you can't discount the textbook road game the Coyotes played Wednesday night in blanking Pittsburgh at Mellon Arena in a 3-0 final. Building off a three-goal win at Los Angeles, in its opener, Phoenix has guaranteed itself a winning road trip and goes for the sweep against the Sabres.
– It's been a long wait for Buffalo, which is hoping to bounce back from a hard-fought, but ultimately disappointing home opener Saturday in which Montreal won 2-1 on a Brian Gionta overtime goal. The Sabres thoroughly outplayed the Habs, finishing with a 35-17 advantage in shots, but they had trouble putting pucks past Carey Price.
"(Monday's) practice was about trying to get those better scoring chances," winger Jason Pominville
said. "I think when we look at the Montreal game, we generated a lot of shots, but not enough scoring chances. … Even five-on-five it's been our talk."
– The Phoenix power play struck for a pair of goals against Pittsburgh, with Ed Jovanovski and Petr Prucha lighting the lamp. Radim Vrbata
added an empty-netter for his third goal in two games. Ilya Bryzgalov shut out the defending Cup champs, making 24 saves.
Connolly, who played just 98 games over the previous three seasons but had 88 points in them, scored a power-play goal against Montreal for the only Buffalo offense.
-- Free-agent signing Taylor Pyatt
remains out for Phoenix due to a lower-body injury. Buffalo defenseman Toni Lydman didn't play against Montreal due to a hand injury and is questionable for this game. Forward Adam Mair is nearing a return following hip surgery.
– Defenseman Tyler Myers
, selected No. 12 in the first round of the 2008 Entry Draft, made his NHL debut for the Sabres against the Canadiens and was named third star after taking 22 shifts for a total of 16:13 in ice time. Myers recorded one shot on goal and was even for the night.
– The Coyotes must be ready from the drop of the opening faceoff, because this game has trap written all over it. Their home opener beckons on Saturday, but they can't get caught looking forward because the Sabres have a bad taste in their mouths from Saturday night and will be looking to erase it.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com