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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6) at Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to cap a four-game road trip with consecutive wins when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Monday's clash at First Niagara Center.
The Coyotes had dropped the first two tests of this swing to bring their overall losing streak to three games. Phoenix ended the slide, however, with Saturday's 4-3 overtime win at Ottawa.
Phoenix rallied for the OT victory against the Senators, overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to send the game to the extra session. Antoine Vermette, who tied the game at 3-3 late in the third period before winning it in overtime, recorded his second career hat trick in the win.
Vermette notched a power-play goal to even the score with 2:13 remaining in regulation and then finished off his hat trick with 2:37 left in OT. Following a left-circle faceoff win, Derek Morris received the puck at the point and put a shot on net which Craig Anderson stopped, but the rebound popped out to Vermette and he slid the puck home to end the contest.
"You can argue he's our most valuable player," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "A workhorse and guy we can rely on in all situations."
Vermette now has 12 goals on the season, tying him with captain Shane Doan for the team lead. Doan hasn't played since Dec. 4 due to an illness and is expected to miss an eighth straight game tonight.
Radim Vrbata netted the other score on Saturday for the Coyotes and Mikkel Boedker added two assists. Mike Smith stopped 37 shots to record the win.
Phoenix is 9-7-4 on the road this season. The club will play seven of its next eight games at home, a stretch that begins Friday against San Jose.
The Sabres had won two straight before losing the finale of a home-and-home series in Boston. Buffalo downed a visiting Bruins team 4-2 on Thursday before losing a 4-1 decision Saturday in Beantown.
David Krejci recorded a goal and an assist to help the Bruins avoid a home- and-home sweep at the hands of the Sabres, who are last in the NHL with just 21 points on the season.
Zemgus Girgensons netted the lone Buffalo goal, while Jhonas Enroth yielded three goals on 38 shots in the setback.
"I thought we made some really bad decisions at some wrong times," said Buffalo interim head coach Ted Nolan.
Cody Hodgson missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury and the Sabres leading scorer is questionable for tonight. He is pacing Buffalo in both goals (8) and assists (11) this season.
Ryan Miller expects to get the call in net on Monday for the Sabres and he is 4-0 with a 0.99 goals against average in four career outings against Phoenix. Smith is 4-3-1 with a 2.82 GAA in his career versus the Sabres.
This evening's matchup is the first meeting between the Coyotes and Sabres since Phoenix notched a 4-2 win in Buffalo on Nov. 19, 2011. That win halted a five-game skid in the series for the Coyotes and it was also Phoenix's sixth victory in its last eight trips to Western New York.
12/23 10:47:36 ET
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