Smiles, smirks, and grins alike reached from one side of the hallway to the other as the Sabres players marched back to the dressing room following their 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. At the time, much of their mirth surely came from the post-game activity that saw several players—most notably Rasmus Ristolainen and a particularly fired up Zach Bogosian—get into a prolonged scuffle with several Coyotoes players after the final horn.
The reason why that levity should stick around for a day or two, though, is from one of Buffalo’s finest road performances this season, which saw the Sabres dominate the special teams aspect of the game.
Buffalo’s pair of goals both came on the power play in the second period. Jack Eichel notched his 14th goal this season with a one-time blast that soared past Arizona netminder Louis Dominque. It was Eichel’s fifth power play goal, which leaves him only trailing Ryan O’Reilly (7) on the team for most power play tallies.
Jamie McGinn doubled the Sabres’ lead with a little under three minutes to play in the second period off an attempted pass that turned to carrying a lot of luck for Buffalo. McGinn attempted to throw a backhand pass behind him to O’Reilly, but the puck instead hit Arizona defenseman Michael Stone and slipped past an unsuspecting Dominque off the rebound.
Buffalo was just as formidable while playing a man down as they were playing a man up. They came out of the first period unscathed even after a four-minute penalty to Jake McCabe for high sticking and a two minute bench penalty. They went on to kill off their remaining two penalties throughout the game, only surrendering a goal to Arizona centerman Antoine Vermette shortly after stifling the Coyotes’ power play for the fourth time.
Chad Johnson was pivotal toward keeping Arizona off the scoreboard. Johnson put on a performance just as impressive as his one-goal outing against the Washington Capitals this past weekend, foiling 26 of the 27 shots that the Coyotes fired at him. On the other end, Arizona goaltender Dominique—who was making just his 11th start this season—kept the Coyotes alive for much of the game by only allowing two goals on Buffalo’s 28 shots.
The Sabres’ brief road trip will continue Wednesday when they play the Colorado Avalanche, both O’Reilly and McGinn’s former team. It’ll be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, which also means the first time that former Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov will skate against Buffalo. That game will be a late one for most fans with a 10:00 PM EST puck drop from Denver.