At this point it is nearly impossible to ignore the Phoenix Coyotes, especially with goaltender Mike Smith setting records like it’s his job.
Tuesday night the Coyotes faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fourth and final time this season. However, unlike their first three meetings, this time it was the ‘Yotes who skated off with the win. Smith recorded his third straight shutout, blocking 54 shots from the Blue Jackets and awarding the Coyotes a 2-0 victory for their regular-season home finale at Jobing.com Arena.
Amongst the many outstanding saves Smith made, his masterpiece came with about seven minutes left in the second period. While down and out, he stacked his pads and flew his glove in the air to seize a James Wisniewski shot destined for the top shelf where mom keeps the peanut butter. That quickly elicited a “Smitty” chant that circled the arena.
“I was kind of off-balance and more out of desperation than anything else I had to throw up a jammer. It was a lucky one,” Smith said in the Coyotes recap.
But the good news on Smith doesn’t stop there. This shutout broke Craig Anderson’s record for the most saves in a shutout in a regular-season game. Anderson had 53 stops for the Florida Panthers in a win against the Islanders on March 2, 2008.
Smith has eight shutouts this season, tying Nikolai Khabibulin and Ilya Bryzgalov for the franchise record. Additionally, he now has a shutout streak of 219 minutes, 59 seconds in shutting out Columbus, San Jose, and Anaheim, all in must-win situations with a playoff spot on the line.
“As an athlete, I think we want to contribute and help the team win in times like this in the season,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I wouldn’t think it’s any different for anyone else than just me. It’s an important time of the year to play well, and I’m fortunate that I’m doing it at this time of the season. It’s exciting and fun to be a part of games like this.”
With 93 points, Phoenix again pulled even with the idle Los Angeles Kings in the race for the Pacific Division title with two games remaining. Moreover, the Coyotes stayed a point ahead of eighth-place San Jose and moved four points ahead of ninth-place Dallas (who lost to the Sharks on Tuesday).
Tuesday’s victory was also the Coyote’s 40th win of the season. The ‘Yotes have now won 40 games in three consecutive seasons: a franchise record. Their next game is Friday vs. the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center, be sure to catch some of the action and watch Smith attempt to surpass former Coyotes goaltender Brian Bucher’s NHL record of 332:01 in 2003-04.