Coyotes' Vrbata leaves it late vs. Sabres
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[February 27, 2017]
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While
teammates keep getting traded all around him, Arizona Coyotes right
winger Radim Vrbata just keeps rolling.
Vrbata ripped a slap shot through a screen with 18.9 seconds left in
regulation as Arizona rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the
Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Sunday at Gila River Arena.
The winning goal, which came mere hours after good friend and fellow
Czech Republic native Martin Hanzal was traded by Arizona to the
Minnesota Wild, gave Vrbata 600 career points and extended his point
streak to nine games (4-7-11).
"He's had a great season," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of
Vrbata, who leads the team with 46 points. "He's just a consummate
pro that shows up and does his job every night."
Arizona's win snapped a two-game losing streak overall and a
six-game losing streak to Buffalo. The Sabres were 8-1-1 in their
previous 10 games against the Coyotes overall and had won seven
straight at Gila River Arena.
Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues scored for Buffalo, which fell seven
points off the Eastern Conference playoff pace following a pair of
losses this weekend on the road to the two worst teams in the
league, the Colorado Avalanche and the Coyotes.
Anders Nilsson made 26 saves for Buffalo (26-26-10).
"We let them come at us a little bit too hard," Sabres coach Dan
Bylsma said. "We were a little too passive in the neutral zone, and
they came at us with a ton of speed. We still had plenty of
opportunities to put the game away. Regardless of the opponent, it
can't happen where you feel like you have the two points in your
Max Domi and Jamie McGinn also scored for Arizona (22-32-7). Coyotes
goalie Louis Domingue made 31 saves.
Eichel opened the scoring at 18:01 of the first period when he
ripped a wrist shot through the screen of Coyotes defenseman Connor
Murphy and past Domingue's glove hand for his 14th goal of the
season. Eichel extended his point streak to six games.
Eichel has 36 points in 41 games since returning from a high ankle
sprain that sidelined him for the first 21 games of the season. He
has 13 points in his past 10 games, but Buffalo is just 19-17-5
since he returned.
"It's tough to swallow; we've blown a lot of leads this year,"
Eichel said. "We don't push for that next goal. It's a dagger that
you come on a road trip and get no points."
[to top of second column]
Rodrigues widened the lead to 2-0 in a four-on-two
rush just after a Coyotes power play had expired at 9:53 of the
second period. Eichel carried the puck into the offensive zone and
slipped a cross-ice pass to Jake McCabe on the left wing. McCabe
passed right back to Rodrigues for a tap-in into an open net. It was
Rodrigues' second goal of the season and second in as many nights.
Domi pulled the Coyotes within 2-1 at 6:42 of the third period.
Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen's clearing attempt deflected
off Vrbata and onto Domi's stick for a one-timer between the
McGinn tied the game with his ninth goal of the season, 100th of his
career and first in 14 games when he took a bouncing feed from Josh
Jooris and buried it at 13:41 of the third period. Jooris was
playing center in the wake of the Hanzal trade and Alex Burmistrov's
Vrbata's game-winner came through a maze of traffic to give him
goals in four consecutive games.
"The goalie was playing so well that I thought it would be tough to
get something by him," Vrbata said. "(Tippett) knows how to use me,
and I like to play his style of game. That's been the case."
NOTES: The Coyotes traded C Martin Hanzal and RW Ryan White to
Minnesota for a 2017 first-round pick in 2017, a second-round pick
in 2018, a conditional 2019 fourth-round pick and minor league RW
Grayson Downing. ... Arizona C Alex Burmistrov (upper body) is
day-to-day. ... Coyotes G Mike Smith was feeling well enough to back
up Louis Domingue on Sunday, but not well enough to start. Smith
missed Friday's game in Dallas due to an undisclosed illness. ...
Coyotes C Brad Richardson, who fractured two bones in his right leg
on Nov. 17, skated with the team on Sunday morning. Richardson, who
is on injured reserve, still hopes to return this season. ... The
Sabres recalled RW Justin Bailey and LW Evan Rodrigues from AHL
Rochester. ... Sabres RW William Carrier (knee) is day-to-day. ...
With Sabres G Robin Lehner banged up from a game against Colorado on
Saturday, the Sabres recalled G Linus Ullmark to back up Anders
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