Though they made a flurry of deals before the trade deadline, the Buffalo Sabres didn’t need their newest acquisitions to end a three-game losing streak.
The Sabres wrap up a two-game homestand Friday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, who stopped their three-game slide thanks in part to one of its recent additions.
Hours after re-signing center Tim Connolly to a two-year, $9 million contract extension, Buffalo (32-25-7) acquired third-line center Dominic Moore from Toronto and goaltender Mikael Tellqvist from Phoenix before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Winger Ales Kotalik was also sent to Edmonton for a second-round draft pick in 2009.
But the Sabres’ newest faces weren’t on the ice that night in a 5-1 win over visiting Montreal. They are tied with Carolina for ninth in the Eastern Conference with 71 points, just three behind three teams that are tied for eighth.
“The rumors, everything, all the doubts in the players’ minds has gone out the door,” said Roy, Buffalo’s top scorer with 59 points. “You have your team in front of you. It’s a relaxed environment and everybody was anxious to get out on the ice and work hard for the team.”
That benefited Lalime, who made a season-high 38 saves and improved to 1-2-1 in four games since starter Ryan Miller went down indefinitely with a high left ankle sprain.
Moore is likely to debut Friday, but Tellqvist won’t start against his former teammates. Coach Lindy Ruff told the Sabres’ official Web site that Lalime will be in net trying to improve on his 7-2-1 record and 1.64 goals-against average in 10 career games versus the Coyotes.
Tellqvist’s trade to Buffalo was among the many moves Phoenix (27-31-5) made Wednesday, but the acquisition of Scottie Upshall paid off immediately. He scored his second goal in as many contests, helping the Coyotes to a 2-1 win at Eastern Conference-leading Boston on Thursday.
“There were a lot of new faces in the dressing room today that got in late (Wednesday) night and I thought we all did a great job of all coming together in a short time and putting together sixty minutes,” Upshall told the Coyotes’ official Web site. “This is a big win for us.”
It was Phoenix’s fourth victory in 16 contests since the All-Star break.
The Coyotes will be seeking back-to-back road wins for the first time since Feb. 11-21 as they continue their season-high five-game swing. They have a good chance of doing so in Buffalo, where they’ve won five straight and also tied the Sabres three times since losing there on Jan. 5, 1997.
Phoenix, though, fell 2-0 at home to the Sabres on Jan. 31.
Thomas Vanek, Buffalo’s leader 32 goals, has two assists in three career contests versus the Coyotes.
He was held off the scoresheet for a third straight time Wednesday in his return from a nine-game absence with a broken jaw, but has five goals and eight assists in his last 11 overall.