BUFFALO, NEW YORK – Mike Smith’s unwitting mistake gave the short-handed Buffalo Sabres a 2-1 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.
With 3:47 gone in overtime, Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk took a shot that hit Martin Hanzal and became lodged in the back of Smith’s jersey. The Coyotes goalie retreated into his crease, unknowingly carrying the puck across the line and ending the game.
“I didn’t feel it at all,” Smith said of the bizarre goal. “I didn’t know what happened. I knew that puck went up in the air but had no idea where it went after that.”
Ryan Miller made 36 saves for the Sabres, and said he’s never seen anything quite like Monday’s ending.
“A little unlucky for Smith there,” Miller said. “I think he’ll be shaking his head for a while. It’s a little bit of a Christmas present for us and we’ll take it.”
The Sabres started the game with just 16 skaters after a virus left Linus Omark, Cody Hodgson, Ville Leino, Marcus Foligno and Alexander Sulzer unable to play. Buffalo was only able to recall Pysyk and left wing Johan Larsson from its AHL affiliate in Rochester because the team was en route to the Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland.
Tyler Ennis also scored for Buffalo, which is 4-0-1 in its last five home games after starting the season 3-12-1 at First Niagara Center.
The fans gave the Sabres several standing ovations throughout the contest, and the team went to center ice to salute them after the game.
“I play on emotion and when fans are just supportive like that, it’s a huge boost,” Sabres rookie center Zemgus Girgensons said. “First 30 games fans were there for us but we didn’t play well.”
Hanzal scored for the Coyotes, who concluded a four-game road trip with a 1-1-2 record. Smith made 30 saves.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said the odd ending fit his team’s performance.
“The game is an honest game,” he said. “If you’re supposed to win, usually you can win. And we didn’t deserve to win tonight, so those things happen.”
Phoenix outshot Buffalo 15-3 in the first period, though the two best chances belonged to the Sabres.
The Coyotes opened the scoring 19 seconds into the second period when Hanzal raised his stick to deflect Connor Murphy’s slap shot over Miller. The play was reviewed and it was determined Hanzal’s stick struck the puck below the height of the cross bar.
Miller didn’t like the call and directed blame to the NHL Situation Room in Toronto, which reviewed the goal.
“It hit the top of his blade and his blade was up high,” the goalie said. “”The puck wasn’t rising, it was already over the crossbar in my mind so I think Toronto got it absolutely wrong.”"
Buffalo native and former Sabres left wing Tim Kennedy recorded an assist on the goal.
Miller kept the deficit at one by coming out to the top of his crease to stop a high shot from Michael Stone.
Girgensons was thwarted on a breakaway just two minutes later as Murphy grabbed the rookie”s stick before he could get a shot on Smith. There was no penalty on the play.
Drew Stafford left the Sabres with 15 available skaters after receiving a five-minute elbowing penalty and game misconduct. Facing the boards to the right of Smith, Stafford swung his elbow backward at oncoming Oliver Ekman-Larsson and caught the defenseman in the face.
The Sabres killed off 2½ minutes of the major penalty before Hanzal took a roughing penalty. In the remaining 30 seconds, Smith stopped Ott”s slap shot during a 2-on-1 break.
Buffalo”s penalty kill has been successful on 21 of its last 22 chances.
“Short bench, all the penalties we had, it didn’t seem like anything in the game was really going our way,” Girgensons said. “We just worked probably the hardest we’ve worked throughout the whole season and stuck to the system. That”s the way we won.”
Stars 5, Kings 2
In Los Angles, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn scored on Dallas’ first two shots against the unbeaten Martin Jones and rookie linemate Valeri Nichushkin got the go-ahead goal on a power play in the second period, leading the Stars past the Kings.
Cody Eakin scored an insurance goal with 4:48 remaining against Jones, who stopped 19 shots in his first NHL loss.
Shawn Horcuff was credited with an empty-net goal after he was tripped from behind by Drew Doughty in the Kings zone. Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves to record his league-leading 12th road victory, sending Los Angeles to its second loss in 11 games and just their third in regulation over the last 23.
Rangers 2, Maple Leafs 1 (SO)
In New York, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored shootout goals and backup goalie Cam Talbot earned his second win in two nights.
Zuccarello and Stepan scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, and Talbot stopped Nazem Kadri in the third to end it. Kadri scored a disputed goal with 1:24 left in regulation to force overtime.
Jonathan Bernier was exceptional for Toronto, making 42 saves through overtime and allowing only J.T. Miller’s goal 7:04 into the third period. The Maple Leafs played their third straight shootout and lost for the second consecutive time. They are 2-5-2 in their last nine.
Blackhawks 5, Devils 2
In Chicago, Patrick Sharp scored twice and Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy also connected to lead the Blackhawks over New Jersey.
Stephen Gionta and Michael Ryder scored for the Devils, whose season-high four-game point streak (3-0-1) ended.
Kane has points in 12 straight games, matching his career high — set earlier this season and just before this run.
Chicago rookie Antti Raanta stopped 10 shots in his seventh straight start — all since Blackhawks top goalie Corey Crawford suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 8.
Sharks 5, Avalanche 4 (SO)
In San Jose, Joe Pavelski scored with just under 20 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored in the shootout to lift the Sharks to a win over Colorado
Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn scored goals 12 seconds apart in the final two minutes to put the Avalanche ahead.
Flames 4, Blues 3 (SO)
In Calgary, Joe Colborne scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Flames an improbable come-from-behind win over St. Louis.
Colborne took the first attempt in the shootout and beat Jaroslav Halak on a deke for his third goal on four attempts this season in the tiebreaker.
Ducks 3, Capitals 2
In Washington, Hampus Lindholm scored the winner at 14:24 of the third period and Anaheim rallied past the Capitals in coach Bruce Boudreau’s return to the Verizon Center.
Andrew Cogliano had a goal and an assist, and Saku Koivu added a goal for Anaheim. The Ducks extended their franchise-best winning streak to nine games and lead the NHL with 58 points.
Blue Jackets 4, Hurricanes 3
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille scored 1:28 apart late in the third period to rally Columbus over the Hurricanes.
Jeff Skinner scored two goals and Alexander Semin gave Carolina the lead midway through the third period before the Blue Jackets came back to win.
Senators 5, Penguins 0
In Ottawa, Craig Anderson made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season and the Senators defeated Pittsburgh to snap Marc-Andre Fleury’s five-game winning streak.
The game was close after two periods but the Senators dominated the Penguins in the third outshooting them 15-9 while getting goals from Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris and Cory Conacher.
Oilers 6, Jets 2
In Edmonton, Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists and the Oilers snapped a season-high six-game skid with a victory over Winnipeg.
Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov and Jeff Petry also scored for Edmonton, which had been shut out in three of its previous five games and outscored 24-6 during its losing streak.
Islanders 3, Red Wings 0
In Detroit, Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 56th career shutout in New York’s win over the Red Wings.
Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Casey Cizikas scored for the Islanders, who have only won three of their past 17 (3-10-4).
Lightning 6, Panthers 1
In Sunrise, Florida, Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists and Tampa Bay extended its winning streak to five games with a victory over Florida.
Valtteri Filppula had a goal and an assist and Victor Hedman had three assists. J.T. Brown added two third-period goals for the Lightning.
Flyers 4, Wild 1
In Philadelphia, Wayne Simmonds had two goals and an assist and the Flyers beat Minnesota to extend their home win streak to nine games.
Luke Schenn and Claude Giroux also scored for Philadelphia, which rose above .500 for the second time this season.
Bruins 6, Predators 2
In Nashville, Carl Soderberg scored on a power play and had two assists and Jarome Iginla added a pair of goals to carry Boston past the Predators.
Brad Marchand, Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith also scored for the Bruins, who gave coach Claude Julien his 400th career victory.