The Sabres were back in action for their fifth game of a six game road trip. The Sabres just came off a 5-2 loss to Calgary Wednesday night while the Coyotes were blanked 2-0 by San Jose on Thursday night.
Both teams showed fresh legs in the first period. There was no room for error as both were battling for a playoff spot in their respective conferences.
Forward, Pat Kaleta was back in the lineup for the Sabres for an injured Adam Mair. He missed the previous 17 games due to a head and neck injury. Kaleta set the tone for a physical, fast paced game. Kaleta's presence was immediately felt after a few checks and just five minutes in dropped the gloves with Coyotes' forward Dan Carcillo.
Wayne Gretzky's boys were flying early. The Shane Doan, Joakim Lindstrom, and Joel Perrault line was giving Buffalo's "D" trouble in the first period but they were unable to beat goaltender Ryan Miller.
Later in the first, Nathan Paetsch was ready to scrap with Carcillo but quickly the linesmen separated the two and each were given four minutes for instigating and a 10 minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Not only did the Sabres lose Paetsch for the majority of the first two periods, they lost defenseman Jaroslav Spacek to injury after he finished a check midway through the first.
Spacek never returned to the game and his status for the Sabres' next game against Anaheim is unknown.
The Sabres played with just four defensemen through the first two periods.
With just five minutes left in the first, Buffalo was awarded a man advantage. During the power play, an Ales Kotalik turnover leads to a Lindstrom, Doan two-on-one. Doan fed Lindstrom a one-timer and Miller made an extraordinary leg save moving to his left.
Miller carried the Sabres through the first period, making saves on all 15 shots.
The second period began with the Sabres top line tallying yet another goal. Tim Connolly buried a lose puck in the goal crease to make it 1-0 Buffalo. Connolly's goal was his seventh in his last five games.
Just three minutes later the Sabres get a highlight reel effort from Derek Roy as he turned Ken Klee inside out and as he was falling to the ice still managed to get a pass over to Dan Paille to make it 2-0 Buffalo. Paille's goal was his first in 15 games for the Sabres.
Just a minute later after Paille's goal, Kotalik almost made it 3-0 after he rang a slap shot past Coyote's goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and off the post.
The Sabres put on a ton of pressure in the second period but also were very good in their own end.
The Coyotes only managed three shots on Miller, much due to the fact that their shots were not getting through. The Sabres did a great job of clogging the shooting lanes all game long.
The same defensive performance continued in the third period for the Sabres.
The Sabres ran into some penalty trouble early and throughout the final period. They began to lag a bit because they were playing with a short bench for most of the game. Jochen Hecht also left the game early with a undisclosed injury.
Even without two regulars on the penalty kill unit, the Sabres were able to stymie the Coyotes attack. The Coyotes power play unit went 0-7 Saturday and has now gone 1-22 in their last five games.
The Coyotes failed to capitalize on their scoring chances. Their lackluster performance on the power play and inability to beat Miller was the story of the game.
The Coyotes have now been shutout by the same score, 2-0, in back to back games. The shutout was also number eleven for Miller's career.
With a win the Sabres now sit alone in seventh place in the Eastern Conference Standings with 57 points, just four points back from sixth place Philadelphia Flyers.
The Sabres are in Anaheim, Monday night to face the Ducks. It is the final game of a six game road trip for the Sabres before heading back home Wednesday, February 4th, to play division rival, Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres haven't played at home since January 17th against Carolina.
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