(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams with one eye already looking towards this summer's draft will meet Thursday in Buffalo when the Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes at First Niagara Center.
With an NHL low 47 points, the Sabres are the odds-on favorite to land the top overall selection at the June 26 draft. Arizona is next in line, as the club is currently second from the bottom in the league standings, and last in the West, with just 52 points. Buffalo had the NHL's worst record in 2013-14, but finished second in the draft lottery to the Florida Panthers.
The top two prospects at the 2015 draft are forwards Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
Arizona is coming off a rare victory, halting an eight-game slide with Tuesday's surprising 5-4 overtime victory in Detroit. It was the Coyotes' first victory since March 5 against Vancouver and just their third win in 23 games (3-18-2).
The Coyotes had lost seven straight road games -- all in regulation -- before winning in the Motor City. It was Arizona's first away victory since beating Chicago on Feb. 9 and it pushed the club's road mark this season to 12-21-3.
Tuesday's tilt was a back-and-forth affair with neither team holding a lead of more than one goal. In the end, Mark Arcobello's second goal of the night was the difference, as he scored with 1:52 to play in OT to deliver the win for Arizona. He took a stretch pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, raced into the Detroit zone and slipped a low shot past Jimmy Howard for the deciding marker.
David Moss also scored twice, John Moore lit the lamp and Mike Smith made 33 saves for the Coyotes.
"We competed hard, hung around the game and our power play came through big for us," Arizona head coach Dave Tippett said.
Smith will start again tonight and is 4-3-2 with a 2.72 goals against average in his career against Buffalo.
The Sabres have lost three straight and only have one victory over their last 11 games (1-8-2).
Buffalo has failed to gain a point during its current three-game slide and fell 4-3 in Monday's road loss against Dallas. The Sabres scored first and also held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before falling to the Stars, who received the game-winner from Cody Eakin with 3:14 to play in the third period.
Brian Gionta had two goals in the loss and Matt Moulson added a goal and an assist for the Sabres. Anders Lindback stopped 35 shots in defeat.
"Seems everyone's focused on a draft choice, but our focus is trying to get these guys to compete and win," said Sabres coach Ted Nolan.
Buffalo is home for just one contest before taking to the road for two straight. After visiting Colorado on Saturday, the Coyotes and Sabres will meet in the desert on Monday. Arizona is set to visit Pittsburgh to close a three-game road trip before its rematch versus Buffalo.
The Sabres have won two straight and seven of the last eight meetings with the Coyotes. Buffalo has won three of the past four encounters on home ice.