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Sabres unhappy after fans cheer Gagner's winning goal in OT that gives Coyotes 4-3 win

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Sam Gagner scored 56 seconds into overtime to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Thursday night, earning cheers from the last-place Sabres' fans hoping to get the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft.

Jordan Szwarz, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Moss also scored for Arizona, which has won consecutive games for just the second time in 2015.

The 29th-place Coyotes moved six points ahead of the Sabres, delighting the home crowd clamouring for the best odds at the top pick.

Tyler Ennis, Brian Gionta and Rasmus Ristolainen scored in the Sabres' fourth-consecutive loss. It's the seventh time this season Buffalo has a skid of at least four games.

Ekman-Larsson's 21 goals leads all NHL defenceman and broke Nicklas Lidstrom's record for goals in a season by a Swedish blue-liner.

The question around Buffalo before the game was how the crowd would react to a matchup of two of the three teams perceived to be competing for the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick in June.

The team with the worst overall record will be guaranteed to land one of two prospects considered to be generational talents: OHL Erie Otters centre Connor McDavid and American-born Boston University centre Jack Eichel.

Szwarz enlivened an otherwise quiet crowd when the Sabres let him skate into the circle for a point-blank shot on Matt Hackett. His high snap shot beat the Sabres' goalie and Arizona took a 1-0 lead at 7:55 of the first period.

The home fans openly cheered the Coyotes' goal, which was comparable to a Sabres goal without the celebratory goal horn. Also audible, though, was a late-coming round of boos, presumably for the fans cheering the visitors' goal.

A little less than 3 minutes later, Buffalo completed a pretty passing play from Moulson to Ennis. The diminutive winger shifted away from Mike Smith's poke check to slide the puck into the goal and tie the score and draw a louder cheer.

Ristolainen gave the Sabres their first lead with a power-play goal at 8:37 of the second. His hard, rising slap shot was aided by a deflection off Moss and beat Smith over his left shoulder.

Arizona tied it up on Ekman-Larsson's point shot through traffic with 8:31 left in the period, causing another loud round of cheering to be met by boos.

A deflected goal by Moss with 5:40 left restored Arizona's lead. It was reviewed since Moss' stick was near shoulder level when he redirected Gagner's shot past Hackett. Several fans cheered the announcement of the upheld goal, too.

Buffalo picked up a late power play when Connor Murphy interfered with Marcus Foligno, and Gionta took a low slap shot from the slot that beat Smith five-hole to tie the score with 3:37 remaining.

Moments later, Smith denied Zack Bogosian on a breakaway to help the game reach overtime.

That's when Gagner's shot from the left half-wall beat Hackett along the ice to give Arizona the win.

The Coyotes out shot Buffalo 42-35.

NOTES: Bogosian and RW Patrick Kaleta both returned from lengthy injury absences. ... Buffalo's Jerry D'Amigo underwent facial surgery for a high-stick from Nashville's Craig Smith on Saturday. Nolan says D'Amigo is out for the remainder of the season. ... Ennis suffered an upper body injury in the third period and did not return.

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