Preview: Sabres at Coyotes
After struggling for most of January, the Phoenix Coyotes celebrated a much-needed return home with a decisive victory on Tuesday. They'll look to build on that momentum Thursday night as they entertain the Buffalo Sabres. Thomas Greiss turned aside all 30 shots he faced for his third career shutout in a 3-0 triumph over Los Angeles, and will make his second straight start against a Buffalo team that ranks last in the NHL in offense.The Sabres bring a 5-15-3 road mark into the desert, but have fared better of late with a 2-1-1 record in their last four games away from Buffalo. They weren't as fortunate in their last home game, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Washington Capitals despite rallying from three separate deficits. Cody Hodgson led the way offensively with a pair of goals, leaving him just two shy of his career high of 16 set in 2011-12 with the Vancouver Canucks.TV: 9 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), FSAZ+ (Phoenix)ABOUT THE SABRES (14-30-8): Buffalo's heartbreaking loss to the Capitals did yield at least one positive outcome: Phil Varone's first career NHL goal, scored 11:11 into the second period. The former fifth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks converted Marcus Foligno's pass to hit the scoresheet in the fourth game of his career. "It's every kid's dream," Varone told the Buffalo News. "I thought about it a lot, ever since I got called up (from the American Hockey League) ... It's a good weight off the shoulders obviously but I wish it would have come in a win."ABOUT THE COYOTES (25-18-10): Not many playoff-bound teams rely so heavily on a 22-year-old defensemen in just his fourth NHL season, but that's the situation Phoenix faces with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The former sixth overall pick played nearly 35 minutes in the Coyotes' 5-4 overtime loss in Vancouver on Sunday, then followed that up with a strong showing against Los Angeles. "He's such a key player for us," wing Antoine Vermette told the Arizona Republic. "He's very talented, but he does a lot of good things out there."OVERTIME1. Phoenix announced on Wednesday that the franchise will officially be named the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the 2014-15 season.2. Buffalo has won six of the last seven meetings, including a 2-1 overtime decision Dec. 23.3. The Sabres (1.8) are the only team in the NHL averaging fewer than two goals per game.PREDICTION: Coyotes 3, Sabres 1
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