Sabres welcome Coyotes to western New York
The Buffalo Sabres needed very little offense to pick up a win on Friday night and the Northeast Division leaders will be right back at it when they host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres posted a 1-0 victory in Carolina on Friday, as Jhonas Enroth recorded a shutout and Jason Pominville scored the game's only goal in the first period.
It was the second win in three games for Buffalo and Lindy Ruff's team is 6-2 over its last eight trips to the ice. However, tonight marks the first of two in a row on home ice, where the Sabres are just 5-5-0 on the season.
Enroth rebounded from a subpar performance in his last outing to backstop the Sabres to the win over the Hurricanes. Enroth recorded 14 of his 34 saves in the third period Friday night and notched his second career shutout. The Swedish netminder was pulled Wednesday against New Jersey after surrendering five goals on 19 shots.
Enroth is Buffalo's de facto No. 1 goaltender since Ryan Miller has not been available in each of the club's last three games. Miller is sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a concussion last Saturday in a 6-2 loss at Boston. Miller suffered the head injury on a collision with Bruins forward Milan Lucic and the former Vezina Trophy winner is also dealing with whiplash.
It's unclear if Enroth will play this evening on back-to-back nights or if backup Drew MacIntyre will get the first start of his NHL career. MacIntyre has seen action in three NHL games, including one this season when he replaced Enroth in Wednesday's game against New Jersey.
Pominville and Thomas Vanek enter tonight riding six-game point streaks for Buffalo and both players have recorded three goals and five assists during those runs.
The Sabres have won five straight in the series against Phoenix and the Coyotes haven't defeated Buffalo since a 6-2 victory in the desert on Jan. 21, 2008. Buffalo has won its last two home tests against the Coyotes, but Phoenix had won eight in a row on the road in this series prior to the previous two matchups in western New York.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, will try to bounce back after suffering a tough loss Thursday in Philadelphia. Phoenix left the City of Brotherly Love without a point, as Matt Read scored with 18.6 seconds left in the third period to lift the Flyers to a 2-1 decision.
Former Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov also made 30 saves against his former team to pick up the win for Philly. Bryzgalov had spent his previous four seasons with Phoenix and guided the team to the playoffs in the last two. He signed a nine-year, $51 million deal with the Flyers in the offseason.
Mikkel Boedker scored the lone goal for the Coyotes, who had a five-game road winning streak stopped and also failed to gain a point for the first time in five outings.
Mike Smith was excellent in net for Phoenix, making 40 stops in the loss. Bryzgalov's replacement is 8-3-3 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this season.
"He gives us the chance to win every night and that's all you can ask from any goaltender," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.
Phoenix, which will cap a five-game road trip Monday in Washington, is 5-2-1 as the guest this season.
The Coyotes have played the last four games without veteran center Daymond Langkow, who left the team last week to deal with a death in the family. Langkow, who has three goals and five assists this year, will not join Phoenix for the rest of the road trip. He is expected to play when the Coyotes host Anaheim on Wednesday.