In another battle for the bottom, the Buffalo Sabres again did the job at least some of their fans wanted to see by losing to the Arizona Coyotes.
There was no open cheering for the visitors like there was when the Coyotes posted an overtime victory here in 2015 at the height of the tank for Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel In fact, there was ample booing of the Sabres late in their 4-1 defeat Wednesday that dropped them further into the NHL basement.
The Sabres gave up a pair of power-play goals in the first period and never caught up as they fell three points behind Arizona. The Coyotes are 29th in the NHL standing with 61 points, Vancouver is No. 30 at 59 and Buffalo remained last at 58.
The biggest issue for the Sabres was the loss of goaltender Chad Johnson in the second period. Johnson took a shot to the mask midway through the first period but stayed in the game. At a stoppage 6:04 into the second, Johnson skated off the ice for the night and was replaced by Linus Ullmark. Coach Phil Housley did not have any immediate word on Johnson's status.
No third wheel: The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead at 3:38 of the first period when Dylan Strome banked a shot off Chad Johnson for his second goal of the season. It was the second NHL goal for Strome, who joined the team for the first time since November. He was drafted No. 3 overall in 2015 -- just behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel -- but has yet to become an NHL regular. Strome has 50 points in 47 games for Tucson of the AHL and is second in the league in scoring.
Long time coming: Jordan Nolan tied the game for the Sabres at 11:42 of the first period, tapping a backhand into an open net for his third goal of the season. It was Nolan's first tally since he netted both of his previous goals in the Nov. 22 loss to Minnesota.
Retaking the lead: The Coyotes moved into a 2-1 lead on Derek Stepan's goal at 17:44 of the first, a power-play tally that saw his shot slip past Johnson after it was deflected by Sabres penalty killer Scott Wilson.
Power play magic: Both of the Coyotes' first-period goals came on the power play, which continues to thrive on the road. Arizona went 2 for 2 with the man advantage after entering the game 27th overall with the man advantage -- while ranking 31st at home but fourth on the road.
Pulling away: Richard Panik put the Coyotes up, 3-1, at 6:32 of the third, drilling a loose puck past Ullmark after Clayton Keller's shot was deflected.
Wrapping it up: Max Domi hit the empty net for the Coyotes with nine seconds left.
Rookie magic: Keller's two assists allowed him to set a Coyotes rookie record for both assists (35) and points (55). He broke Domi's assist mark of 34 set in 2015-16 and Peter Mueller's points mark of 54 set in 2007-08.
In the house: The Sabres announced there were 17,029 tickets sold for the game, but the in-house crowd wasn't much over 10,000 as they were entire vacant rows all over the 300 level and plenty of empties in levels 100 and 200.
Schedule running out: The Sabres have just three home games left on their schedule. The loss dropped them to 11-22-4 at KeyBank Center (11-22-5 at home counting the Winter Classic in New York). That remains the worst home mark in the league. Buffalo needs to win one of the last three to snap a tie with the 1971-72 team for the fewest number of home wins over a full season in franchise history.
Up Next: The Sabres return to practice on Thursday and host Montreal here Friday. That starts a back-to-back that takes them to New York to meet the Rangers Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. On Monday night, they play the Maple Leafs in Toronto -- in their first visit of the season to Air Canada Centre in what will be Game 76 of the season.