GLENDALE — The Phoenix Coyotes simply can’t let these golden opportunities slip by. After the Vancouver Canucks lost on Wednesday, the Minnesota Wild then lost on Thursday, opening the way for the Coyotes to come within a point of the wild card. Instead, they came up short, losing at home to the worst team in hockey.
It’s nights like these that the Coyotes (25-19-10) will go back and look at in disgust if they end up watching the playoffs from home. Even though things started poorly, with Tyler Ennis scoring for Buffalo at 6:08 of the first period, the Coyotes were able to pull back into it at the end of the period.
After Cody Hodgson was called for holding against Martin Hanzal at 16:52 of the first, the Coyotes lit the lamp on a snap shot from Antoine Vermette, his 20th of the season, at 18:30 of the period. Mikkel Boedker and Keith Yandle assisted on the power play goal.
Just :18 later, David Moss buried a backhand, his sixth goal of the year, to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. Jeff Halpern and Zybnek Michalek assisted. Things were looking good, as the Coyotes pounded the Sabres 21-12 in shots in the period and held a lead at home.
The Sabres (15-30-8) tied it up in the second period on the power play, as Steve Ott snapped one in at 6:38 of the period, from Ville Leino and Alexander Sulzer. The Coyotes defense couldn’t keep the Sabres from crowding the front of the net, which gave goaltender Thomas Greiss no chance.
The third period illustrated all that is wrong with the Coyotes right now. They outshot the Sabres 9-5, but at 1:52 of the period, Zemgus Girgensons scored his fifth goal of the year. Goals happen, but a short-handed goal is the gut punch of all gut punches. This game might end up being the gut punch that keeps the Coyotes out of the playoffs.
- The Coyotes ALLOWED three shots on net on their own power play.
- Martin Hanzal won 11-of-14 faceoffs (79 percent).
- The loss drops Thomas Greiss to 7-4-1 on the season.
We’re giving this one to Martin Hanzal, despite the fact he scored no goals and assisted upon no goals. He finished the game even, got seven shots on net and got five hits. He was also spectacular in the faceoff circle, winning 11-of-14 faceoffs (79 percent).
Runt of the Litter
There wasn’t a single player that stuck out as the runt of the litter, but we’re going to go with Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker for the simple fact that they were the only Coyotes who finished the game at a minus-2. Keith Yandle had three giveaways, as well. Just an overall poor effort from the team.
Phoenix will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, February 1st from Jobing.com arena in Glendale, Arizona.