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.