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Tim Connolly and Patrick Lalime lead Sabres past Phoenix Coyotes

NHL.com @NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tim Connolly had two goals and two assists, and Patrick Lalime made 29 saves in the Buffalo Sabres' 5-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night.

Connolly has five points in two games after signing a two-year, US$9-million contract extension Wednesday. Lalime, who has stopped all but two of 69 shots in the past two games, improved to 2-2-1 after taking over for injured starter Ryan Miller.

Playing against the team he has had the most success against in his 10-year career, Lalime moved to 8-2-1 lifetime against the Coyotes after entering with a sparkling 1.64 goals-against average.

Lalime blanked the Coyotes in his last meeting with them last season, and had a shutout streak of 129 minutes, 44 seconds against them snapped when Matthew Lombardi scored in the third period.

Defenceman Andrej Sekera added a goal and assist, and Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford also scored for the Sabres, tied with Carolina for ninth in the Eastern Conference - one point behind Florida, the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh.

Buffalo won for the first time at home against Phoenix since Jan. 1997 - a stretch of eight games - and beat the Coyotes by a combined score of 7-1 in two meetings this season.

After a sluggish first five minutes, the Sabres scored on two of their first three shots on Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was making his sixth straight start.

Bryzgalov finished with 26 saves for slumping Phoenix, losers of four of the last five and 13 of its last 17.

Connolly got things going for the Sabres seven minutes into the game when he deflected Jaroslav Spacek's shot from the point while standing to the right of Bryzgalov along the edge of the crease.

Sekera made it 2-0 just 78 seconds later, ripping a slap shot from the middle of the blue line after Connolly won the faceoff in the left circle.

Connolly notched his 13th of the season, converting on a power play with 5:43 to go in the second period.

After stealing the puck in the right corner, Connolly moved to the front of the net before shooting from in tight. Bryzgalov made the initial save, but Connolly banged in the rebound.

Lombardi, obtained from Calgary on Wednesday in the Olli Jokinen deal, made it 3-1 seven minutes into the third period, whipping a backhander under Lalime on the power play.

Pominville and Stafford capped the scoring with a power-play goals during a 37-second span with under three minutes to go.

Notes: The Coyotes will continue their five-game trip Sunday at the New York Islanders. ... After scoring 12 goals in the first 58 games, Buffalo defencemen have tallied five times in the past seven games. ... RW Maxim Afinogenov was shaken up and went to the locker room after a hard hit into the end boards by Phoenix D Ken Klee in the second period, but was able to return. ... There were no penalties called in the first period, but 24 minutes worth of infractions in the second. ... The Sabres have won nine of their last 12 at home.

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