There was no mistaking what the Coyotes needed to do Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.

With struggling Florida in for a visit and precious points at stake to keep a run to the playoffs alive, it was time to kick sand in the face of the Panthers, drop them like a bad habit and sink them like a 3-foot putt.

Nothing short of a victory, and maybe really a convincing one at that, would be acceptable — especially with the big, bad Boston Bruins coming to town Saturday night.

It wasn't pretty, but mission accomplished.

The Coyotes scored both of their goals during a first period in which they took just seven shots and Mike Smith stopped all but one of the 23 shots he faced en route to a 2-1 victory in front of 14,442.

"They all can't be masterpieces," coach Dave Tippett said wryly. "We got up two goals and we won, so let's just leave it at that. Take the points and get ready for Boston."

It was the team's third straight win, something the Coyotes hadn't accomplished in four months, when they won five straight from Oct. 26 to Nov.5.

But they needed this one in the worst way.