GLENDALE, Ariz. – Scoring wasn't an issue for the Buffalo Sabres the last time they played the Arizona Coyotes back on Dec. 4 at First Niagara Center. The Sabres won that game 5-2, their fourth game in a row with four or more goals.
As they prepare to meet the Coyotes again on Monday night in Arizona, the Sabres might be in the midst of rekindling their offense. They've won three of their past four games, scoring three or more goals in each victory including a four-goal performance against League-leading Washington on Saturday.
Two earmarks of the Sabres' recent stretch have been scoring early and getting contributions from all throughout the lineup. Buffalo has scored eight first-period goals in the last four games and each of their last 10 goals were scored by different players – none of which are named Ryan O'Reilly or Jack Eichel.
"That's very important for our team and it is for every good team," rookie forward Sam Reinhart said after the team's morning skate at Gila River Arena. "We've got to keep getting better at that, keep producing with everyone which we have lately, which is why we've kind of gotten away from the slump."
Evander Kane scored twice in Buffalo's first meeting with Arizona, a game in which the Sabres won despite entering the first intermission trailing 1-0. This time around, he'd like the offensive output to start a little sooner, as it had in recent wins.
"Obviously last game [against Washington], I think scoring early has been a key for us and it's going to be no different for us tonight," Kane said. "Arizona is a good team with a lot of speed and a lot of skill and if you can make them playing their zone and try to get on top of them, especially in the first period, usually we can set ourselves up for the rest of the game."
Chad Johnson will get the nod in net for the Sabres coming off of a 33-save performance against the Capitals. He'll oppose rookie goaltender Louis Domingue, who is 7-0-3 in his last 10 starts with two shutouts.
Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
A SHUTDOWN PAIR
With Josh Gorges out of the lineup again on Monday with an upper-body injury, Zach Bogosian will again skate on a defensive pair with Rasmus Ristolainen. The right-handed Bogosian played to the left of Ristolainen on Saturday and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma was impressed with their results against the Capitals' dangerous top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.
"I thought they did a real good job shutting that line down and minimizing their opportunities," Bylsma said. "I thought there was going to be an adjustment period with Zach just being on his offside, dealing with execution … he was real comfortable and they were real comfortable working together."
The game on Saturday also saw the return of Mark Pysyk to the Sabres' lineup after missing nearly two months with a lower-body injury. Pysyk logged 15:16 of ice time on a pair with Mike Weber.
"His skating was evident adding him to our lineup, especially on the defending part of it," Bylsma said. "I thought he was able to take rushes and take speed and skill and defend well with his skating. That's what he can bring and that's what he did bring."
As for Gorges, the defenseman participated in the morning skate on Monday on a pair with Carlo Colaiacovo. Bylsma said that he remains day-to-day.
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart
84 Philip Varone – 15 Jack Eichel – 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson – 59 Tim Schaller – 17 David Legwand
47 Zach Bogosian – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 46 Cody Franson
6 Mike Weber – 3 Mark Pysyk
31 Chad Johnson
40 Robin Lehner