The Buffalo Sabres definitely were not favored to come away victorious against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
But, with their roster reduced to 16 players because of the flu and then 15 because of a second-period ejection to Drew Stafford for an elbow to the head of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres managed a 2-1 overtime victory courtesy one of the strangest goals of the regular season to date.
Mark Pysyk got credited for the winning goal – his first of the season – in overtime, after being the last Sabres’ player to touch the puck, which was deflected high into the air and landed in the hockey pants of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.
Smith backed into the net and there was a delayed reaction to the Sabres’ celebration. The play was reviewed and called a good goal, giving Buffalo a win against the odds.
“At 3:47 of overtime in the Coyotes/Sabres game, video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that Mark Pysyk’s shot deflected into the air and landed in goaltender Mike Smith’s equipment and, while attempting to make the save, Smith’s momentum propelled him and the puck completely across the goal line. Good goal Buffalo,” the league wrote on its Situation Room Blog.
The Coyotes saw things a little differently.
“I guess if they don’t see the puck, they’re supposed to blow the whistle. That’s not what happened,” said Smith, as per Joe Yerdon of ProHockeyTalk and NHL.com.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.