There's a good chance coach Dave Tippett didn't come into the season believing Max Domi would be his most consistent player offensively.
Now he's wondering where the Arizona Coyotes would be without the standout rookie.
Arizona has lost three straight both to the Carolina Hurricanes and overall to begin this five-game trip, and it will try to snap both streaks and stop the bleeding defensively Sunday.
Domi, the 12th overall pick of the 2013 draft, is pacing the Coyotes (13-12-1) with 10 goals and 23 points. He'd been more of a facilitator lately with five assists in his previous five, but he ended a nine-game drought without a goal by scoring two Friday.
No one else was able to get on the board, though, and Arizona fell 5-2 to Buffalo.
''We have too many people playing below par," Tippett said. "Max came out and really gave us a strong game. When players give you strong games like that it's too bad you can't find ways to make those count as wins."
The Coyotes have scored only five goals while dropping the first three of a five-game trip, but they've also given up five in each and have allowed at least that many seven times.
Mike Smith has been in goal for each game during the trip after winning his previous three starts. Domi scored in the first period Friday, but Arizona couldn't put Buffalo away.
It also was without Shane Doan for a sixth straight game because of a lower-body injury.
''When you are all over a team like that, you have to get on them and you have to keep going,'' said Domi, who has a plus-5 rating despite the Coyotes being outscored by 10 goals on the season. ''As soon as you let them back in the game, the first doesn't mean much after that.''
The Hurricanes (9-13-4) were suffering through a three-game skid of their own heading into Saturday's matchup with first-place Montreal, but Jeff Skinner scored his second goal on the power play in the third period to give them a 3-2 victory.
Carolina lost 5-1 to New Jersey two nights prior.
''The win is big no matter what,'' coach Bill Peters said. ''We needed to win. We didn't play well on our last out and we needed to bounce back. And credit to the guys, but we need to validate this win tomorrow (against Arizona).''
Joakim Nordstrom also scored Saturday, but it was Skinner's performance that stood out. Skinner had two goals in his previous 11 games combined, giving the two-time 30-goal scorer seven in 26 games.
''It's a good feeling,'' Skinner said. ''It was going to be a big test. After last game we needed to bounce back. We needed to create some momentum for the next game and get on a bit of a roll. It's nice to roof one, especially when you haven't done one for a while. It's always a nice feeling, and I'll look to try and get some more of those.''
Skinner has scored twice in five career games against Arizona, which could have Smith in net again. Smith is 3-2-1 with a 2.14 goals against average in his last six against the Hurricanes, including a 2-1 shootout loss in the most recent meeting Feb. 5.
Carolina could counter with Eddie Lack after Ward made 36 saves Saturday. Lack, though, is 1-5-1 with a 3.57 GAA in seven starts this season.