Phoenix at Buffalo

Sabres deny Coyotes best start since 2003 wire reports

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As long as the Phoenix Coyotes kept taking penalties, the Buffalo Sabres weren't going to get frustrated about being unable to solve goalie Jason LaBarbera.

Thomas Vanek snapped a late third-period tie with a power-play goal, and Ryan Miller made 23 saves to help the Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Coyotes on Thursday.

Vanek cashed in on Buffalo's seventh power-play opportunity with 3:53 to go after defenseman James Vandermeer was sent off for cross-checking him behind the Phoenix net.

Scottie Upshall received four minutes in penalties in the final period, wasting a great effort from LaBarbera while leaving new Coyotes coach Dave Tippett livid.

"We're in a game that our goaltender is giving us a chance to win and we go out there and take six more minutes in penalties? That's disgusting," Tippett said. "That's giving games away. That's bad discipline on our part and that's situations that can't happen."

LaBarbera made his first start for the Coyotes after signing as a free agent. He finished with 37 saves, many coming in spectacular fashion.

"Anytime you join a new team you want to show them a good effort," he said. "It would have been nice to win, but it was one of those games where I needed one more save."

Clarke MacArthur added a goal and assist for the Sabres, who rebounded from a season-opening overtime loss to Montreal.

Matthew Lombardi scored for the Coyotes.

Phoenix (2-1), embroiled in off-ice controversy since filing for bankruptcy in May and nearly winding up in nearby Hamilton, Ontario, then enduring a coaching change just before the season, lost for the first time and was denied its best start since 2003. The Coyotes return home on Saturday to play their first regular season game in Glendale since entering bankruptcy protection.

"We've been told this first game's already sold out," captain Shane Doan said. "We're excited about that. It's obviously a difficult situation, and nobody wants to be in it."

Vanek scored from the slot, one-timing MacArthur's pass from underneath the goal line.

"We had chances but just couldn't get them," Vanek said. "We stuck to our systems, stuck to our game and got rewarded in the end."

Phoenix forward Petr Prucha was knocked out of the game 32 seconds into the second period after taking a hit from Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta. Martin Hanzal jumped Kaleta and received 19 minutes worth of penalties, leaving Phoenix two players short for most of the period while giving the Sabres a four-minute power play.

Buffalo peppered LaBarbera with six shots during that stretch, but came up empty.

"We could have had three or four in the second period, but their goalie was unbelievable," MacArthur said.

Tippett didn't have an update on Prucha, who was leveled after playing the puck along the side boards before turning to skate up ice.

"If it was a high hit to the head, the league will look after it," Tippett said.

After two scoreless periods the Coyotes broke through on Lombardi's power-play goal 2:37 into the third period.

MacArthur tied it 97 seconds later after Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers was able to keep the puck in the Phoenix zone before feeding MacArthur. Myers earned his first career NHL assist on the play, but was shaken up after the pass after taking a hit by Doan. Myers was on the ice for a couple of minutes then left under his own power.

Miller kept the game scoreless in the second period with 4:42 left, robbing Radim Vrbata with a glove save while on his stomach.


  • Referee Bill McCreary officiated in his 1,600th NHL game.
  • Buffalo C Adam Mair missed his second game because of a hip injury, but is close to returning.
  • The Sabres were also missing D Toni Lydman (hand).
  • Buffalo won both games last season by a 7-1 margin.
  • Miller had not allowed a goal to the Coyotes in his seven-year career.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Ryan Miller stops 23 shots and on this one gets help as the puck bounces off the goal post. (Getty Images)
Ryan Miller stops 23 shots and on this one gets help as the puck bounces off the goal post. (Getty Images)
Phoenix (2-1-0)0011
Buffalo  (1-0-1) «0022
Three Stars
C. MacArthur

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
J. LaBarbera

Saves: 38
Save Pct.: .950
T. Myers

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
02:37Power Play - Matthew Lombardi (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Aucoin, Doan
04:14Clarke MacArthur (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Myers
16:07Power Play - Thomas Vanek (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: MacArthur, Roy
Penalty Summary
32.0Hanzal, 2 min, Instigator
32.0Hanzal, 2 min, Instigator
32.0Hanzal, 5 min, Fighting
32.0Hanzal, 10 min, Misconduct
32.0Kaleta, 5 min, Fighting
07:09Montador, 2 min, Hooking
08:42Tallinder, 2 min, Tripping
13:44Lepisto, 2 min, Hooking
17:07Vandermeer, 2 min, Roughing
01:55Gaustad, 2 min, Slashing
06:23Upshall, 2 min, Roughing
06:23Upshall, 2 min, High-Sticking
14:13Vandermeer, 2 min, Cross-Checking
Shots On Goal
Jason LaBarbera58:44372
Ryan Miller59:54231
Game Information
Attendance - 18690
Referees - Chris Lee, Bill McCreary
Linesmen - Scott Driscoll, David Brisebois
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