The Sabres and Coyotes play to get out of the NHL cellar

March 21, 2018 - 8:59 pm

Buffalo Sabres, (WGR 550) - The Sabres came into the game with Arizona having a chance to jump over Arizona and Vancouver in the standings to 29th.

The crowd was very sparse because there weren’t too many Coyotes fans in attendance.

Justin Bailey got the chance to play left wing on Jack Eichel’s line and right away he started a good breakout hitting Brendan Guhle in full gallop. Guhle tried to stickhandle through the defense and turned it over.

Chad Johnson started the game, but got hit in the mask midway through the first period. He stayed down for a bit, but stayed in the game after speaking with trainers. The first Coyotes goal was banked in off Johnson’s pad by Dylan Strome from behind the net.

The other power play goal by Derek Stepan was a full screen.

The Sabres were outshot 15-13, but had some good chances that were shot wide. Nick Baptiste found Evan Rodrigues using his speed to get open down the slot, but Rodrigues missed the net.

Later, Rodrigues did hit the net from the left point and the shot was hard enough that it went off of Antti Raanta’s pad right to Jordan Nolan who deposited his first goal in 42 games into an open net.

We all like what Bailey can create with his speed, but there was a play where he used it to get back to his own end and break up a dangerous rush.

Baptiste had a great chance to tie the game late in the period, but he too shot wide.

Johnson left during a TV timeout in the second period and we can only assume he was feeling the shot to the mask from earlier. Johnson played 26:04 had made 13 saves on 15 shots. Linus Ullmark stopped all five shots he saw in 13:36.

Buffalo had three power plays in the second period and they were never really dangerous. They got setup in the zone, but never got anything around the paint. Buffalo only had three shots on the three power plays.

As I sit here after 40 minutes of play, I have to say both teams look somewhat apathetic in their play.

Ryan O'Reilly had an off night on faceoffs against Nashville, butin this one, he won 15-of-25 draws in the firts two periods.

The Coyotes opened up a two goal lead thanks to another bad bounce. Clayton Keller's shot was blocked but went right to Richard Panik.

Buffalo got another power play opportunity after Max Domi stupidly went after Nolan. Buffalo got a few good chances, but none better than Guhle loading up Eichel in the left circle for a hard one-timer that went wide.

The third period was totally lifeless. Buffalo only had four shots on goal until Housley pulled the goalie with around 3:30 minutes left.

Ullmark was solid stopping 12 of 13 shots is 30:38 of work. Johnson never even returned to the bench.

That game was a total 'The season is almost over' game with very little emotion coming from either team. It was just another dud in front of the home fans.

Phil Housley was absolutely livid with his team after the game. His comments are worth hearing and are below.

The win gives Arizona 29th place with a points percentage of .424. Vancouver has 30th place at .404 while the Sabres remain dead last at .397.




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