Evan Rodrigues rushed up the ice, skated to the top of the right circle and beat Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper with a wrist shot in the third period Thursday night.
The goal, Rodrigues' second of the season, gave the Buffalo Sabres a much-needed cushion, and they held on for a 3-1 victory in KeyBank Center. After receiving little secondary scoring during a five-game winless streak, the Sabres got goals from Rodrigues and Casey Mittelstadt.
Jeff Skinner scored his 22nd goal of the season in the first period for a two-goal lead, which backed goalie Carter Hutton in his return to the lineup. Hutton, who missed the previous three games, made 25 saves.
Buffalo, 19-9-4 with 42 points, has won two in a row and is 5-3-2 over its last 10 games. It also improved to 11-3-2 at home, on pace for its best home record since 1979-80. Mittelstadt and Skinner scored 6:06 apart in the first period before Arizona answered with Christian Fischer's goal at 7:19.
It remained a one-goal game until Rodrigues finally broke through. Zemgus Girgensons bumped Arizona defenseman Alex Goligoski off the puck in the neutral zone, and it was collected by Rodrigues, who beat Kuemper 6:28 into the third.
Arizona, 13-15-2 with 28 points, remained in seventh place in the Pacific Division and has lost four in a row.
Quiet night: No penalties were called through the first two periods, which kept the Coyotes' top-ranked penalty kill off the ice. Arizona had killed off 90.6 percent of its penalties this season and leads the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals.
The penalty drought ended 56 seconds into the third when Buffalo defenseman Lawrence Pilut was called for high sticking, though it was killed off by the Sabres, whose penalty kill is 11 for its last 12.
Opening goal: The second line finally contributed some secondary scoring. Mittelstadt, scoreless in his previous eight games, broke the tie only 42 seconds in with a wrist shot from the high slot to beat Kuemper. It was Mittelstadt's fifth of the season and his first since a 3-2 win over Montreal on Nov. 23.
Pouring it on: Skinner made it 2-0 when he collected a 2-on-1 pass from Jack Eichel and fired a shot past Kuemper. It was Skinner's 16th even-strength goal of the season.
Coyotes answer: Hutton, who missed the previous three games with injury, showed signs of rust when he lost track of the puck behind the net and was beat to the left post by Fischer's wraparound goal.
Streaking: With a secondary assist on Skinner's goal, Sam Reinhart extended his point streak to eight consecutive games. Entering Thursday's game, Reinhart trailed only Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Colorado's Mikko Rantanen, both whom had at least one point in 12 straight games.
Spin-o-rama: Though it did not result in a goal, Tage Thompson made the highlight-reel play of the game in the second period when he collected a drop pass from Jason Pominville, spun to avoid a defender and fired a backhander on net 6:14 into the second period.
Injury update: Defensemen Marco Scandella, Jake McCabe and Casey Nelson remained out of the lineup, all with upper-body injuries. Scandella, who skated with the team Thursday, will need at least one more practice before returning, according to Phil Housley.
Forward Patrik Berglund (illness) missed a second consecutive game, and winger Remi Elie was a healthy scratch. The Coyotes were without forwards Michael Grabner, Vinnie Hinostroza and Alex Galchenyuk, all of whom are day-to-day.
Fischer leaves: Fischer did not return to the game after being hit from behind by Eichel 14 seconds into the second period. Eichel was not penalized for the hit, despite Fischer going head first into the boards.
Next: The Sabres will return to practice Friday morning at HarborCenter before leaving for a two-game road trip. They play the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. Saturday in Capital One Arena.