UTICA, N.Y. -- Right wing Jeff Greenlaw's second goal of the game gave the Skipjacks a 3-0 third-period lead and they held on last night for a 3-2 American Hockey League victory over the Utica Devils before 2,108 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Tim Taylor scored the other Baltimore goal, and rookie goaltender Byron Dafoe stopped 28 shots, as the Skipjacks ended an eight-game losing streak and 0-9-1 winless streak.
"Every game has been such a gut wrencher for us," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "We've lost some very emotional games and have taken them very hard. This was a long time coming. It feels real good.
"I think we've been in a must-win situation for six or seven games now, but there's still a lot of hockey left."
Baltimore is still last in the Southern Division with 52 points, but Utica could have moved eight points ahead of the Skipjacks in the scramble for the last of four playoff spots.
"We were really looking for a big win here. The emotions were flying high," said Dafoe. "We're looking to knock Utica out of the playoffs. We'll take it one step at a time. We're looking to catch them, and hopefully keep going."
Utica's Brian Sullivan and Bill Guerin scored third-period goals, and Doug Dadswell made 30 saves for the Devils.
Dafoe had stopped 23 Utica shots before Sullivan one-timed Jarrod Skalde's cross-ice pass to the left circle past his stick side with 4:01 gone in the third.
Guerin's great individual effort then pulled Utica within 3-2. He wheeled from the right corner, beat Baltimore's John Purves to the hash marks and then beat Dafoe with a low backhander between the pads at 9:43.
It was the eighth goal for Guerin, who has a seven-game point-scoring streak.
Utica had two power-play opportunities in the final seven minutes but managed only two shots on goal.
"We've just been getting a bad bounce or teams have been getting a lucky break," said Dafoe. "So when it became a 3-2 game, there were a few question marks, but we played a real strong last 10 minutes."
Dafoe stopped Jason Miller twice on the first power play, and Utica didn't have a shot during the second. Taylor, however, neatly poked the puck away from a hard-charging Mike Bodnarchuk just as Dafoe's high-sticking penalty expired with 1:15 to play.
Utica's power play was 0-for-5.
"You know it's going to be a tough one [to win] and you know you have to get off to a good start," said Utica coach Herb Brooks. "They were a wounded team backed into a corner.
"When you have a team that's as good as they are and has had some tough times, they're going to be tough to beat."
Utica had the best scoring chances early, but shots by Mike Bodnarchuk and Ben Hankinson hit the goal post and Matt Ruchty steered Miller's two-on-one feed just wide of the net with 3:58 remaining in a scoreless first period.
Dadswell then denied Taylor and Simon Wheeldon, both left unchecked at the edge of the crease, before giving up a long rebound on Craig Duncanson's shot from the slot. Taylor dribbled the bouncing puck through Dadswell's pads and the Skipjacks had a 1-0 lead with 3:18 left in the opening period.
Baltimore defenseman Mark Ferner, helped off the ice with an apparent knee injury 1:21 into the game, returned in the second period and set up the only goal of the period with a shot from the point that Greenlaw deflected past Dadswell at 3:11.