By JACK MAGRUDER
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Tage Thompson scored the tiebreaking goal on a power play midway through the third period and Jeff Skinner had two goals and an assist in his his return from three-game suspension as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Saturday night.
Tyson Jost and Kyle Okposo scored empty net goals in the final 90 seconds to seal Buffalo’s third straight win to improve to 5-1-1 in its last seven games. Alex Tuch had three assists, Rasmus Dahlin and Thompson added two each, and Craig Anderson made 29 saves.
“We just kept battling,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I love that part of our game. That is not an easy team to play, and their goaltender was outstanding. I thought Skinner coming back in the lineup was significant, every impactful.”
Shayne Gostisbehere and Barrett Hayton scored for the Coyotes, who are 4-3-1 in their new home at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena at Arizona State. Connor Ingram finished with 38 saves.
Thompson got the go-ahead goal over a sprawled Ingram, who had stopped two close-range shots but the Coyotes couldn’t clear the puck. It gave Thompson 25 goals and 46 points in his last 24 games.
“It’s a big time of the game,” said Thompson, whose was born in Phoenix and played in front of his mother and friends. “We knew that was a big power play. (Ingram) makes a big stop on (Dylan Cozens) but we got everyone digging for it. It pops loose and I’m sitting right off the side of the net there. It was good to get the lead there in the third.”
The Sabres were 2 for 5 on the power play after coming in second in the NHL at 29.6%.
“We found a way to stay in the game,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. ”Obviously there is a learning curve there in the sense in what leads to our penalties and their goals. On our side, there is not one of them (penalties) we should have taken. Not one of them was smart. Was necessary.”
Gostisbehere gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead on a power play 3:35 into the game with a slap shot from just inside the blue line through a screen by Nick Ritchie. Gostisbehere has four goals and nine points in his last eight games.
The Sabres tied it on their first power play at 6:34 of the first period. Ingram got a glove on Thompson’s wrist shot from the left circle but could not hold it, and the puck bounced off Skinner’s chest into the net. It was Skinner’s 14th goal in his first game back from a three-game suspension for cross-checking Pittsburgh F Jake Guentzel in a loss on Dec. 9.
Skinner regained his position in the top line with Thompson and Tuch.
“I was skating with the assistant coaches” during the suspension, Skinner said. “They made sure I stayed in shape. The team has been rolling pretty well lately. They had a real good last couple of games. Obviously Tuch and Tommy are playing pretty well. I just tried to slide in and read off them and help out as much as I can.”
Hayton gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead with 7:44 left in the second with his first of the season. He stole the puck at his blue line, skated in alone on Anderson and put a wrist shot to the glove side.
Ingram robbed Okposo on a glove save with 3:44 left in the second, but Skinner tied it at 2-2 less than 30 seconds later with wrist shot from the right circle after a pass from Dahlin.
Sabres D Jeremy Davies was in the lineup after being recalled Friday from Rochester of the AHLeague while D Ilya Lyubushkin (lower body) and D Owen Power (lower body) remain out. … The Coyotes recalled F Jan Jeník from Tucson of the AHL but still dressed only 11 forwards as F Liam O’Brien missed the game with an undisclosed injury. … Okposo was back after missing one game with a lower body injury.
Sabres: At Vegas on Monday night to finish a three-game trip.
Coyotes: Host Montreal on Monday night.
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