March 25, 2015

Offense is coming as easily as it has in a year for Buffalo, and Arizona has been terrible defensively for not just the last two games but much of the season.

The teams meet Friday night in Buffalo, where the Sabres have a shot at a scoring plateau they haven't reached in nine seasons, while the Coyotes play the third of a five-game trip trying to hold an opponent under five goals.

Buffalo (10-12-3) last scored four goals in three straight from Dec. 11-15 as part of a four-game winning streak and hasn't done it in four straight since it had 30 over five consecutive contests in 2006-07 - also the last season the club won a playoff series.

The Sabres, however, didn't fully capitalize on the latest effort, falling 5-4 in a shootout at Detroit on Tuesday following 4-1 wins over Carolina and Nashville. To coach Dan Bylsma, it showed his team has the firepower to recover after falling behind 2-0 and 3-1 before forcing overtime.

"We got down, with their first shot, and they get another on a faceoff play that caroms in off their player and over our goalie," Bylsma told the team's official website. "When you're down 2-0, you have to go after it, and I think you saw that in how the game was played up and down the ice. We had to fight back."

Evander Kane scored twice and has four points in the last two games - equaling his total in the first 13 - and Rasmus Ristolainen's three assists gave him 12 points in his last 12 games after totaling five in his first 13.

"We did fight, but we didn't get it done," said Kane, who scored once on the power play to help the Sabres to a 4-for-9 mark in the last two games.

Linus Ullmark was in goal, so the streaking Chad Johnson figures to face the Coyotes. Johnson faced the Hurricanes and Predators to improve to 3-1-1 with a 1.28 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in his last seven games. He beat Arizona on Feb. 24, making 27 saves in a 5-1 win while with the New York Islanders.

That fits right in with the Sabres' success against the Coyotes. Johnson's current team has averaged 3.20 goals during an 8-1-1 span in the series, and Ristolainen scored in both meetings last season.

After Thursday's 5-1 loss in Detroit, the Coyotes (13-11-1) are now one of five teams surrendering at least three goals per game. It was their second straight allowing five and fourth in their last nine to bump their season average to 3.00.

They fell behind 3-0 in the first period two nights after the Predators piled on four in the third, so Arizona allowed seven goals in a 40-minute span.

Mike Smith gave up the three first-period goals before being replaced, dropping him to 7-7-1 with a 3.49 GAA and .887 save percentage over his last 17 games.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury, but coach Dave Tippett said there was a chance he could return Friday.

They got Steve Downie back after he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury, and the forward assisted on Jordan Martinook's goal.

"He made a good play on our goal," coach Dave Tippett told the team's official website. "He hadn't played in 10 games so it was good to get him back in there."

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