Coyotes defeat Sabres in 2nd-straight shutout victory

Dec 16, 2023, 9:34 PM | Updated: 10:34 pm

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka...

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, bottom left, makes a diving save on a shot by Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) as Coyotes center Logan Cooley (92) and left wing Matias Maccelli (63) arrive to help during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE (AP) — Karel Vejmelka had 28 saves for his first shutout of the season, Clayton Keller scored his 10th goal of the year and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Saturday night.

Arizona has won two straight after losing four in a row. The Coyotes also got a bit of revenge after falling to the Sabres 5-2 on Monday in Buffalo.

It was Vejmelka’s first win since Oct. 21 and he improved to 3-7-2 for the season.

“Obviously, it was kind of tough for me, especially mentally,” Vejmelka said. “I tried to stay positive and stay sharp, but it wasn’t easy. It’s part of the game. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

“This feeling is amazing for me right now.”

Keller opened the scoring with 4:48 left in the second period. Alex Kerfoot stole the puck from Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen behind the net and fed Keller for the goal. It was Kerfoot’s 14th assist.

“It was great awareness by him,” Keller said of Kerfoot. “I saw him press on one side and I tried to stay patient, put a little pressure on the other guy. He stripped (the goalie), hit me right on the tape. Those are the ones you like to score.”

The Sabres were dominating the second period until Luukkonen’s costly mistake and never recovered. Vejmelka made two impressive short-handed saves late in the second to keep the Coyotes ahead.

It was the goalie’s fifth shutout of his NHL career and first since Jan. 26 of last season.

“He’s a proud athlete and you want to get on a good stretch,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said of Vejmelka. “That’s a step in the right direction.”

Liam O’Brien made it 2-0 with 10:24 left in the third, scoring his third goal of the season on a breakaway, going high to get the puck past Luukkonen, who finished with 21 saves.

Buffalo killed one penalty in a scoreless first period and outshot Arizona 10-9.

Both teams were playing their second game in two nights, with both winning on Friday. The Coyotes edged the Sharks 1-0 while the Sabres beat the Golden Knights 5-2.

Vejmelka and Connor Ingram accomplished a rare feat in franchise history with their shutouts.

The Coyotes host the Senators on Tuesday.

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