PHOENIX (TICKER) —The ice at America West Arena may be as bad as the Phoenix Coyotes’ power play. And that’s saying a lot.
Curtis Brown scored a shorthanded goal early in the third period and made a key save late in regulation and Martin Biron stopped 30 shots as the Buffalo Sabres extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a 1-0 blanking of the Coyotes.
Brown took advantage of the arena’s choppy ice and Phoenix’s brutal power play, stripping the puck from defenseman Radoslav Suchy below the left faceoff dot, sliding to the hashmark and firing a snap shot into the top right corner of the net.
“The ice was real bad out there and it was bouncing quite a bit,” said Brown, who scored his eighth goal 3:17 into the period. “It happened at both ends of the ice. There were times you thought you had control and didn’t.
“He was trying to get the puck under control. It took him a little more time than he wanted to settle it down. I was able to grab it and sweep it in.”
It was the fourth shorthanded goal allowed in the last two games by Phoenix, which has scored on only one of its last 35 power plays.
The Coyotes were 0-for-6 against Buffalo as their winless streak reached six games (0-4-1-1). Still without star winger Tony Amonte, they have just five goals during the skid, scoring twice in four starts by goaltender Zac Bierk.
“Our power play is not getting it done,” winger Shane Doan said. “We need to find ways to score and we are not. It’s got to be hard for Zac. He has played so well and we have done nothing for him.”
Phoenix’s offense is as bankrupt as the Sabres, who filed for Chapter 11 protection a week ago but are going home with a season-best five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1). They went 3-0-1 on their trip.
“I don’t think we have had a trip, western trip, where we had this much success,” coach Lindy Ruff said.
Part of the success has been the goaltending of rookie Ryan Miller and Biron, who combined to allow just six goals on the trip, each posting a shutout.
“Eight of our last nine periods have been shutout periods,” Ruff said. “If you play like that on the road, you can win a lot of hockey games.”
Starting for just the second time since December 30, Biron recorded his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career, stopping 10 shots in the first period, nine in the second and 11 in the third.
“He got a little bit of help and got a couple of bounces, but he made those four or five big saves that you need,” Ruff said.
Biron made a trio of saves in close on former Sabre Brad May and rookie Jeff Taffe in the closing moments of the second period to keep the game scoreless and watched the Coyotes hit a pair of goalposts before Brown scored.
“We were really all over them in the third period and we had lots of chances,” Bierk said. “Guys were driving toward the net, we had traffic and we just can’t buy a goal.”
With Bierk on the bench for an extra attacker in the closing seconds, the Coyotes continued to pressure Biron, but Brown stopped Daniel Briere’s wraparound attempt in the closing 10 seconds.
“At the end when he got the wraparound, Curtis made an unbelievable save right in front of me,” said Biron, who grew up in Quebec at the same time as Briere. “He was able to get a glove up just like a butterfly goalie covering the top shelf.”
Briere had a chance at the rebound, but Biron righted himself to shut off the near side.
“I think it is my first-ever game since I was 2 that Daniel Briere didn’t score a goal on me,” Biron said.