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game recap

Pouliot scores twice, Sabres hold off Coyotes

Okposo gets goal, assist to help Buffalo win for first time in three games

by Craig Morgan / NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Benoit Pouliot scored two goals and had an assist, and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 at Gila River Arena on Thursday.

The Sabres (4-7-2) improved to 8-2-1 in their past 11 games against the Coyotes.

 

[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Coyotes highlights]

 

Ryan O'Reilly had three assists, and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo, which survived three third-period goals from the Coyotes in the final 7:49 to win for the first time in three games.

"We got away from what made us successful and we almost shot ourselves in the foot," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "Obviously, we'll take the win."

The Coyotes (1-12-1) scored first for the 10th time in 14 games this season when Oliver Ekman-Larsson converted a drop pass from Max Domi at 13:25 of the first period. The assist was Domi's 100th career NHL point. He reached 100 points (28 goals, 72 assists) faster than any player in Coyotes history (154 games).

Buffalo tied the game 1-1 with nine-tenths of a second remaining when Pouliot sent a pass from the boards to Kyle Okposo alone at the right circle. Okposo's snap shot beat goalie Antti Raanta to the short side for his first goal of the season.

Video: BUF@ARI: Okposo nets snap shot from the faceoff dot

Pouliot gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead at 4:20 of the second period on a backdoor pass from O'Reilly off a 2-on-1.

Seth Griffith scored on a breakaway at 14:36 for a 3-1 lead after Coyotes forwards Anthony Duclair and Brad Richardson collided in the offensive zone.

Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet was frustrated with his team's decision-making in the second period.

"We started cheating in the second and then it was a comedy of errors: 2-on-1s, 2-on-1s, 2-on-1s," Tocchet said. "There are about four or five individuals that have to understand what it takes to win and it's my job to get these guys to understand that."

Evander Kane scored a shorthanded goal on a 2-on-0, converting a pass from Jack Eichel at 6:16 of the third period for a 4-1 lead. Pouliot made it 5-1 with his second goal of the game at 11:12.

Video: BUF@ARI: Kane, Eichel connect for shorthanded goal

Coyotes forward Zac Rinaldo scored his first goal of the season at 12:11 to make it 5-2. Nick Cousins scored at 14:07 to cut the lead to 5-3, and Christian Dvorak made it 5-4 at 19:08.

Raanta made 26 saves in his first game in three weeks. He was sidelined after sustaining a lower-body injury in the first period of a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Gila River Arena on Oct. 12.

The five goals by the Sabres matched a season high. They defeated the Boston Bruins 5-4 in overtime at TD Garden on Oct. 21.

"It's a big boost of confidence hopefully going into Saturday's game in Dallas," Pouliot said. "We were connecting very good, we were supporting each other and we had a lot of shots."

Video: BUF@ARI: Pouliot roofs shot for his second goal

 

Goal of the game

Griffith's breakaway goal at 14:36 of the second period.

Video: BUF@ARI: Griffith roofs a beauty to extend lead

 

Save of the game

Lehner's left-pad save on Christian Fischer on a Coyotes power play at 11:18 of the second period.

Video: BUF@ARI: Lehner stretches for great pad stop

 

Highlight of the game

Domi's slick feed on Ekman-Larsson's goal at 13:25 of the first period.

Video: BUF@ARI: Ekman-Larsson finishes Domi's great feed

 

They said it

"Yes. Simple answer. Big weight off my shoulders."  -- Sabres forward Kyle Okposo, laughing, when asked if his first goal of the season lifted a weight off his shoulders

 

"I think we should be over that hump. We all talk about it and [Tocchet] says, 'any questions?' No one has any questions, but then maybe sometimes guys should ask questions if they're unsure or they're younger and too timid to ask questions. Sometimes it shows in their play." -- Coyotes forward Zac Rinaldo when asked if the team is still adapting to coach Rick Tocchet's faster style of play

 

Need to know

Sabres defenseman Justin Faulk, who missed the first 12 games with a lower-body injury, made his season debut. … Sabres forward Justin Bailey missed the game with a lower-body injury. … The Coyotes placed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on injured reserve Thursday with an upper-body injury sustained in the third period of a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Monday. ... The Coyotes waived defenseman Adam Clendening on Thursday.

 

What's next

Sabres: At the Dallas Stars on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Coyotes: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Pouliot, Okposo lead offensive charge in 5-4 victory

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