Schmaltz's shootout winner lifts Coyotes over Sabres

Arizona's first major road trip was a big success.

It looks as if the Coyotes learned from what happened last season.

Nick Schmaltz scored in the shootout to help the Coyotes beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night.

Conor Garland and Carl Soderberg scored for Arizona in regulation. Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves and stopped all three Sabres attempts in the shootout.

The Coyotes (7-3-1) closed out a 3-1 road trip, also beating the Rangers and Devils and losing to the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

"We had a trip like this at the end of the year that kind of cost us the playoff spot so all these trips are going to be important," Garland said. "They're hard trips for any team going out east or coming out west so to go 3-1, that's a big-time road trip."

Schmaltz scored the game-winner on a low shot to the glove side.

"We knew this was a big trip," Kuemper said. "You want to separate a little bit early. It's early in the season but these points are huge and we've just got to stick with it."

The Coyotes dominated the last part of the game, outshooting the Sabres 30-15 over the final two periods.

Both teams had prime scoring opportunities in overtime.

The Sabres hit the post twice, and Arizona's Clayton Keller nearly found himself with an empty net after Hutton mishandled the puck. Buffalo's Casey Mittelstadt also missed an open corner of the net on a late backhand shot when the puck jumped on him at the very last second.

"I think we got a lot of bounces early in the year," Mittelstadt said. "It's gonna find a way to even itself out a little bit, but I think for myself I've got to put one of those in for sure."

Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner scored for Buffalo (9-2-2), which had won four of five. Carter Hutton made 41 saves.

"We got off to a good start, things seemed to be ticking well. And then our energy level, we seemed to be digging deep the whole rest of the game," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "We fell back on our heels."

Eichel opened the scoring with his seventh goal 3:31 into the game, ripping a hard power-play shot from the left circle after a Sabres faceoff win.

Skinner made it 2-0 when he finished a terrific give-and-go sequence. Marcus Johansson got the puck back to Skinner, who converted a one-timer for his seventh goal at 11:16.

The Coyotes got on the board just before the end of the first thanks to a bad-angle goal from Garland. Stationed near the Sabres end line, Garland snuck the puck past Hutton on the short side with 1:10 remaining.

After a series of impressive saves by Hutton in the second period, including a stop on Christian Dvorak from point-blank range, Arizona evened the score on the power play with 3:28 remaining. A tipped puck deflected high into the air, fell onto Hutton's back and went into the net. Soderberg was credited with the goal.

The Sabres missed a chance to match a franchise-best point total in the opening month of a season. Their 19 points is the franchise's second-highest point total one month into a season.

NOTES: The Sabres had a video tribute in the first period welcoming Coyotes assistant Phil Housley back to Buffalo. Housley had a turbulent stint as head coach of the Sabres from 2017-19, but also spent eight seasons with Buffalo (1982-90) during his Hall of Fame career as a player. D Marco Scandella, LW Jimmy Vesey and D William Borgen were scratched for Buffalo. Borgen was recalled from the AHL's Rochester Americans on Sunday. C Brad Richardson, D Kyle Capobianco and G Eric Comrie were scratched for Phoenix. The teams don't meet again until Feb. 29 in Arizona.


Coyotes: Return home against Montreal on Wednesday.

Sabres: On the road against Washington on Friday.


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