Sabres, facing Coyotes, shoot for rare win streak


After a big victory against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Buffalo Sabres look to win two in a row for only the second time this season when they face the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

The Sabres beat the Golden Knights 5-2 on Friday in Las Vegas, scoring four unanswered goals after Vegas took a 2-1 lead early in the third period. It was Buffalo’s third win in the past five games, but each of those previous triumphs was followed by a loss.

Buffalo hasn’t won consecutive games since Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

“Our consistency has not been good enough this year and we know that,” said Sabres center Dylan Cozens, who produced a goal and two assists on Friday. “But I think (Saturday) we have a really good chance to kind of break that win here, lose there, win here, lose there. We know we get to enjoy this win a little bit here, but it’s a big game for us (against Arizona) to kind of make a statement for ourselves. We know we need that one.”

Sabres rookie Zach Benson continues to hold his own at the NHL level. The No. 13 pick in the 2023 draft, Benson has scored in consecutive games and has 10 points (four goals, six assists) through 21 games. His strong play away from the puck combined with his skill and high hockey sense helped earn him a roster spot out of training camp and has kept him in the NHL.

Most recently, coach Don Granato has put him at left wing on a line with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch.

“Only 18 years old and he looks like he’s been in the league for quite some time,” Granato said. “You put Benny with them, and they looked outstanding (on Friday). Benny processes the game very well, and it’s amazing that he can do that that well as an 18-year-old. Very impressive night for him.”

The Coyotes are looking to build off a 1-0 home win against the San Jose Sharks on Friday, a result that snapped a four-game losing streak.

“I thought we came out well, we were a little inconsistent, but overall, those are the games you’ve got to win, the close ones,” Coyotes forward Jack McBain said.

Arizona has been a surprise this season, and while there’s still more than half the season to go, finds itself in the mix among teams with their sights set on a playoff spot. The Coyotes, who are fifth in the Central Division, find themselves holding onto the second Western Conference wild-card position.

“This league is crazy,” Arizona defenseman Matt Dumba said. “You never know what’s going to happen on a night-to-night basis, so you just need to be ready, stay focused, worry about your business and be there for your teammates.

“You have to understand that it feels hard when you’re in it, and it’s hard to tell yourself that, but you have to understand that you need to keep working hard. That’s how you create your bounces and create your own puck luck.”

After a solid rookie campaign in 2022-23, when he put up 49 points (11 goals, 38 assists) in 64 games, Coyotes forward Matias Maccelli appears poised to surpass those numbers this season. The 23-year-old has six goals and 22 points in 29 games, putting him on pace for 17 goals and 62 points.

Maccelli scored the game’s lone goal on Friday in the second period.

–Field Level Media

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