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RECAP: COYOTES 1 - SABRES 2 (OT)

Pysyk scores strange goal in overtime to lift Sabres over Phoenix

Monday, 12.23.2013 / 11:00 PM / News
By Chris Ryndak  - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak)
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RECAP: COYOTES 1 - SABRES 2 (OT)
Pysyk scores #buttgoal in overtime to lift Sabres over Phoenix

You could call it a Festivus Miracle. Zemgus Girgensons called it the result of hard work.

The flu-ravaged Buffalo Sabres started their game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday with only 16 skaters. They ended it with one fewer and still found a way to earn an overtime victory.

Down to 16 skaters because of illness and then another when Drew Stafford received a game misconduct for elbowing midway through the second period, it came down to a strong effort – and a little bit of luck – for the Sabres.

Defenseman Mark Pysyk scored in a most unusual way with 1:31 left in overtime to give Buffalo the 2-1 win.

Pysyk put a shot on goal that deflected high up in the air. He then tried to chip it in, but the puck fell into the back of Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith’s pants. Smith was unaware of where the puck was and backed all the way into his net, prompting the referee to signal for a goal.

“With a short bench, all the penalties we had, it didn’t seem like anything in the game was really going our way,” Girgensons said. “Now we just worked probably the hardest we worked throughout the whole season and stuck to the system. That’s why we won.”

For Pysyk, it was his first goal of the season and the second of his career. He was recalled earlier in the day with forward Johan Larsson after spending a short three-game stint with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

He said he’d take the goal any way it came.

“I had a pretty good idea [it was in],” Pysyk said. “I saw it go into the back of his pants. I didn’t know if they’d call it a goal, if they could see it or not. I knew it was in the net.”

Even for a veteran goaltender like Ryan Miller, who was strong between the pipes for Buffalo with 35 saves, the game-winning goal was of a unique variety.

“I’ve seen similar things. I’ve never seen that. A little unlucky for Smith there,” Miller said. “I think he’ll be shaking his head for awhile, but these are the kinds of things that weren’t happening for us and it’s a little bit of a Christmas present for us and we’ll take it.”

The Sabres have also dealt with injuries besides the one to center Cody Hodgson. Both Kevin Porter and Cody McCormick are on injured reserve and are expected to miss some time.

Buffalo was unable to recall anyone besides Larsson and Pysyk from Rochester because the Amerks left Monday morning for Switzerland to compete in the Spengler Cup, an exhibition tournament.

“That was a gutsy performance for sure,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said.

Tyler Ennis tied the game with 5:59 remaining in regulation on a pass from Girgensons after he forced a turnover at the Coyotes blue line. Martin Hanzal scored first for the Coyotes and Smith finished with 30 stops.

Buffalo knew they might be in trouble Monday morning when it came to having enough healthy bodies in the lineup. Marcus Foligno, Ville Leino, Linus Omark and Alexander Sulzer, Buffalo’s sick players, missed the morning skate and did not take pregame warmups. All ended up being scratches.

Nolan said a few other players made it through the game while feeling under the weather as well.

Buffalo dressed only 16 skaters for the first time since a 5-1 win over Quebec on Jan. 7, 1981, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“With a short bench, all the penalties we had, it didn’t seem like anything in the game was really going our way,” Girgensons said. “Now we just worked probably the hardest we worked throughout the whole season and stuck to the system. That’s why we won.”

Buffalo started the game rolling three lines and using John Scott as an extra defenseman. That plan changed, however, when the Sabres were forced to skate with only 15 players.

With 8:44 remaining in the second period, the Sabres had to kill a five-minute major to Drew Stafford for elbowing. In the corner to Smith’s right, Stafford, facing the boards, leaned back and caught Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the head with his elbow. Stafford received a major penalty and a game misconduct.

Halfway through that penalty, Martin Hanzal, who scored Phoenix’s first goal, was drawn into a roughing call by Sabres captain Steve Ott, alleviating some of the pressure on Buffalo’s shorthanded unit.

Scott played 8:50 in the game on 14 shifts. He was even used in front of the net to screen Smith on Buffalo’s power play opportunities in the third period.

“It was fun. I didn’t expect to be thrown in front like that, but Ted showed a little confidence in me and I did a pretty good job. We almost had a couple goals when I was out there so it was nice. I always ask for chances like that and to finally get one was nice.”

Phoenix took the lead 19 seconds early second period lead when Hanzal deflected in a wrist shot from the point by Connor Murphy. The call on the ice was a goal and upon review, the ruling on the ice stood. Buffalo was outshot 16-3 in the game at that point.

According to a statement released by the NHL, “video review was inconclusive in determining whether Hanzal's stick was below the level of the crossbar when he deflected the puck into the Buffalo net.”

The Sabres go into the holiday break with a 4-0-1 record in their past five home games. They’ll next take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday at Air Canada Centre at 7:30 p.m.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82