BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jeff Skinner scored his 22nd goal of the season and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Thursday night.
Casey Mittelstadt and Evan Rodrigues also had goals for the Sabres, who won their second straight following a five-game skid. Carter Hutton returned after missing Buffalo’s previous two games with an upper-body injury and made 25 saves.
The Sabres improved to 11-3-2 at home, matching their win total from last season at KeyBank Center.
Christian Fischer scored for Arizona and Darcy Kuemper stopped 30 shots. The Coyotes have lost four in a row after a four-game winning streak.
The Sabres scored two early goals and clung to a 2-1 lead for more than 39 minutes before Rodrigues scored an unassisted insurance goal 6:38 into the third period. Rodrigues picked off a drop pass from Coyotes defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson in the neutral zone, skated around Alex Goligoski and sent a wrist shot past Kuemper’s blocker.
Buffalo took advantage of giveaways by Goligoski to build a two-goal lead in the first seven minutes.
Mittelstadt’s goal came 48 seconds into the game. Connor Sheary stole Goligoski’s pass in the neutral zone and dropped the puck off to Mittlestadt for a snap shot from the edge of the left circle.
Skinner scored on a rising wrist shot to make it 2-0 at 6:54 of the first. Sam Reinhart intercepted Goligoski in front of the Sabres net and sent a stretch pass ahead to Jack Eichel. Skating up the right wing, Eichel hooked a pass around Hjalmarsson to a wide-open Skinner in the high slot.
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The Coyotes responded 25 seconds later when Fischer beat Hutton with a wraparound backhand that trimmed the lead to 2-1.
NOTES: Fischer got a bloody nose and went to the dressing room after he was checked into the boards from behind by Eichel in the first minute of the second period. He returned for the third. … Reinhart extended his career-best point streak to eight games. … Coyotes C Alex Galchenyuk missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Galchenyuk skated on Thursday and was listed as questionable to play. … Sabres D Marco Scandella is nearing a return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for eight games, coach Phil Housley said.
Coyotes: Conclude a back-to-back at the New York Rangers on Friday.
Sabres: Start a two-game road trip at Washington on Saturday.
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Jonah Bronstein, The Associated Press