Sabres vs. Coyotes Preview
PHOENIX, AZ (AP) - After notching just four points over a seven-game stretch, the Buffalo Sabres have earned seven in their last four contests.
A stop in Arizona could help them add to this total.
The Sabres look to build on one of their best performances of the season and win a fifth straight over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Coyotes -123 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Sabres. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 50% of more than 100 bets for this game have been placed on the Coyotes -123.
Coach Lindy Ruff earned his 500th career win in Buffalo's 3-0 victory over San Jose on Thursday. Ryan Miller made 36 saves and Thomas Vanek scored his team-leading 16th goal for the Sabres (17-18-5), who are 3-0-1 in their last four games after winning two of their previous seven.
"That might be our best all-around effort of the year from a compete standpoint,'' Ruff said.
Ruff became the 16th NHL coach with 500 victories and joined Montreal's Toe Blake as the only ones to get all their wins with one team.
"To get 500 and be with one organization, the organization I grew up playing in, is special," Ruff said.
For several years Ruff had little success against the Coyotes (19-13-8), but that has since changed.
Buffalo has won four straight over Phoenix after winning only two of the first 14 meetings since Ruff became coach of the Sabres in 1997-98. This is Buffalo's second-longest active winning streak against any Western Conference opponent. The Sabres pushed their streak to five over Edmonton with a 4-2 victory Dec. 28 which started their turnaround.
Miller, who had a 4.13 goals-against average in his previous four games before beating the Sharks, has been in net for three games during the run against the Coyotes, posting a 1.00 GAA and a shutout.
Buffalo's Tim Connolly has three goals and five assists in the last four in this series, while Jason Pominville has three goals and one assist.
In the last meeting in Glendale on Jan. 18, six Sabres scored in a 7-2 win.
The Coyotes (19-13-8) are also coming off a solid performance, beating Colorado 2-0 on Thursday. Backup Jason LaBarbera made 34 saves and Taylor Pyatt scored both goals for Phoenix, 3-1-1 in its last five games.
"It's a step in the right direction for us," Pyatt said. "We're trying to find some consistency through our game. To win two in a row is good for us. It's something to build on."
LaBarbera stepped in for Ilya Bryzgalov, who had to tend to a family medical issue.
It is uncertain if Bryzgalov will be back for this game.
Bryzgalov is 3-1-0 with a 2.52 GAA in his last four home starts, but has a 4.23 GAA in losing his last three against Buffalo.
LaBarbera also hasn't fared well against the Sabres, going 0-2-0 with a 4.37 GAA in three games, but has posted shutouts in two of his last three starts overall. Sandwiched between those shutouts was a forgettable outing, however, as he stopped 23 shots in Sunday's 6-5 overtime loss at Minnesota.
LaBarbera has yet to take the ice in Glendale this season, making all 12 of his appearances on the road.