Arizona at Buffalo
When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
The Arizona Coyotes have rarely, if ever, been in the position of guarding against a letdown this season, but that may be the case Wednesday night when they open a six-game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres. The teams are sitting in last place in their respective conferences as the race for the No. 1 spot in the NHL Draft winds down.
Arizona appeared to be a lock for the worst record in the league until a late-season turnaround in which it has gone 12-5-2 over the past 19 games, including wins over Minnesota, Los Angeles and Calgary this month. "We understand we are not in the playoffs, but we understand we are playing teams that are going in the playoffs," Coyotes assistant coach John MacLean said after Monday's 5-2 victory over the Flames. "We understand we have to match their intensity." The playoff intensity could be lacking against the Sabres, who have dropped three of four (1-2-1) on their six-game homestand following Monday's 4-0 loss to NHL-leading Nashville. Buffalo has dominated the recent series, winning five of the last six and going 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings, including a 5-4 win at Arizona on Nov. 2.TV:
7 p.m. ET, FS Arizona, MSG-BuffaloABOUT THE COYOTES (24-37-11):
Veteran defenseman Jason Demers, in his first season in the desert, has been dealing with an upper-body injury and on Tuesday was ruled out for the season by Arizona. That prompted the recall of center Dylan Strome, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, and defenseman Trevor Murphy from Tucson of the American Hockey League. Strome has one goal in 11 games with the Coyotes this season, but he is the No. 2 leading scorer among AHL rookies with 50 points and has nine power-play goals among his 22 tallies.ABOUT THE SABRES (23-37-12):
Jack Eichel has notched a team-high five shots in each of his first two games since missing five weeks with a high-ankle sprain. If that wasn't enough proof as to how he's feeling, Eichel addressed at Tuesday's practice why he never considered sitting out the rest of the regular season. "I'm playing because I'm a hockey player," Eichel said. "It's kind of ridiculous for somebody to think we're out of the playoffs and we don't have an opportunity to really do anything with our season that I would just pack my year in."OVERTIME
1. Coyotes F Clayton Keller has two goals and three assists during a five-game point streak.
2. Eichel has torched the Coyotes for three goals and nine points in five games.
3. Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, who missed Monday's game to attend his mother's funeral, is expected back behind the bench.PREDICTION:
Coyotes 4, Sabres 3
Stats and Records