Sabres best Coyotes in penalty-heavy game at Mullett Arena
TEMPE — It was a penalty-filled night at Mullett Arena and a late one by the Arizona Coyotes ended up costing them in a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
“It’s definitely frustrating, obviously, being right in that game,” Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton said postgame. “Just gave them too many opportunities. Obviously, they got a great power play.
“When you give a team that many opportunities, it’s going to bite you. So, definitely frustrated coming out of that game being right in it, having an opportunity and coming up short.”
Between the two teams, there were 11 penalties in the game, six of which were committed by Buffalo (15-14-2) and five of which were committed by Arizona.
The Coyotes (10-15-4) were just 1-for-6 on their power-play opportunities and were unable to score on a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period.
The Sabres were 2-of-5 on power plays and it was their last one that ended up being the dagger. With 11:45 to play in the game, Arizona’s Nick Bjugstad was called for holding.
And with a little over a minute left in the power play, the two teams were clustered near the Coyotes’ net fighting for the puck. The puck squirted free and was passed to Buffalo’s Tage Thompson, who put it in the back of the net.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 18, 2022
The goal was his 25th of the season, second only to Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid. Thompson’s goal happened to be the game-winner as the Coyotes were unable to convert numerous chances down the stretch, including their last power play chance.
“On our side, there’s not one of (the penalties) we should have seen,” Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said postgame. “There’s not one of them (that) was smart (or) necessary.”
Arizona emptied its net late but was unable to tie the game. Instead, Buffalo scored two empty-net goals to give the team its fifth of the contest.
The Coyotes scored first on the night on their lone power-play goal 3:35 into the first period. Shayne Gostisbehere scored his eighth goal of the season on assists by Jakob Chychrun and Nick Schmaltz to put Arizona up 1-0. Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner then hit pay dirt with a power play goal of his own to tie the game at one apiece 6:34 into the first.
In the second period, Hayton scored on a breakaway to give Arizona the 2-1 advantage 12:16 into the period. His first goal of the 2022-23 campaign ended up being the last for the Coyotes as Skinner’s second of the night late in the period was the first of Buffalo’s four unanswered goals to finish the game.
“I think we had some looks — I think just in general,” Hayton said. “Just being more disciplined. I think that’s the start of it all. So, we just got to focus on that.”
The Coyotes remain at Mullett Arena for a late game against the Montreal Canadiens (14-15-2) on Monday night.
Puck drop is at 8 p.m. on the Arizona Sports App, ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2 or ArizonaSports.com.