BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tage Thompson and Artuu Ruotsalainen scored in a shootout to give the Buffalo Sabres a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Buffalo improved to 2-0 following a 5-1 win over Montreal on Thursday night. Cody Eakin scored in the second period for the Sabres, and Dustin Tokarski made 20 saves before stopping two of three shots in the tiebreaker.
“We had great momentum,” said Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who had an assist on Eakin’s goal. “The only thing missing was the goals. But we worked hard and did everything we could. We got two points and that’s all that matters.”
Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves for the Coyotes. They are 0-2 under first-year coach André Tourigny. Andrew Ladd scored in the first.
The Coyotes have lost their first two games in five of the past six seasons. Coming off an 8-2 loss at Columbus on Thursday night, Tourigny said the Coyotes finished the two-game trip better than they started and was pleased to come away with a standings point.
“From the first game to the second game, we were a much better team,” Tourigny said. “Today during the game, we got better.”
The Sabres are 2-0 for the second time in three seasons and building confidence after finishing in last place for the fourth time in eight years.
On a four-game homestand to start the season, attendance was announced at 7,872, well below KeyBank Center’s 19,200 capacity and down from 8,467 on opening night in Buffalo.
“It’s nice to start at home,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “It’s nice to have the crowd that we had engaged the way it was. We had a lot of energy in the building.”
Eakin knocked in a rebound 1:05 into the second, tying it at 1 with a power-play goal. The scoring chance was created on a rush to the net by Drake Caggiula, who was claimed in April after being waived by Arizona.
“Play with speed, good things happen for everyone,” Eakin said. “You play this way as a team and chances that weren’t there when you’re skating in sand, they’re opening up.”
Ryan Dzingel set up Ladd in the high slot from behind the goal midway through the opening period, giving the Coyotes their first lead of the season. It was Ladd’s 250th career goal and first since March 10, 2020, at Vancouver.
“It’s been a long road for me,” said Ladd, who played four games with the Islanders in the 2019-20 season coming back from a knee injury and spent all of last season in the minor leagues. “That feeling of putting the puck in the back of the net for me is something I thrive on. To be able to get back to this point and feel that again was a proud moment for myself.”
Sabres: F Casey Mittelstadt (upper body) and D Henri Jokiharju (lower body) will be out at least two weeks after getting hurt during the season-opening win, coach Don Granato said. Jokiharju wore an immobilization boot and used crutches while watching the game from the press box. Dylan Cozens replaced Mittelstadt in centering the top line and Will Butcher made his Sabres debut in place of Jokiharju, paired with Dahlin.
Sabres: Claimed D Christian Wolanin off waivers and placed Jokiharju on injured reserve. Drafted in the fourth round by Ottawa in 2015, Wolanin has five goals and 18 points in 61 NHL games. He was waived by the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
Coyotes: Host St. Louis on Monday night.
Sabres: Host Vancouver on Tuesday night.
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Jonah Bronstein, The Associated Press