Smith stopped 30 shots in a 2-0 victory over Chicago at
Jobing.com Arena on Friday, handing the Blackhawks their first first
shutout in 126 regular-season games and edging the Coyotes into
eighth place in the conference standings.
"Making the playoffs obviously is the No. 1 goal and winning the
Stanley Cup, and to do that you need to have great goaltending,"
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be really good. I've worked
the last few games to just be more calm in there and let pucks come
to me, and it's worked out."
Smith has two of the last three shutouts against Chicago (35-11-14),
starting with a 3-0 victory on Feb. 11, 2012.
He has stopped 90 of 93 shots in the last three games, starting with
a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 1 after being given the
previous two games to work back into his game.
Power plays goals by defenseman Keith Yandle 69 seconds into the
first period and forward Radim Vrbata with 1:31 remaining in the
second gave Smith all the support he needed.
"When you are playing teams like that, you look at the roster before
the game, you know you have to be at our best," said Yandle, who had
an assist on Vrbata's goal. "Every play counts."
Smith made several big saves, including one at point-blank range by
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp with about seven minutes remaining
in the second period. Smith posted his second shutout of the season
and third career shutout against Chicago.
The Blackhawks lead the league with 207 goals, the only team in the
NHL with more than 200.
"I want to help this team win so badly, it's a double-edged sword,"
Smith said. "It can work against you. Sometimes it's better to sit
back a little and relax, and let the puck come to you.
"I had a good talk with 'Burkie' (Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke)
about that. Be more of a calming influence than try to make things
out of nothing with puck-handling. Making hard saves look easy is
more of a calming influence on the whole group. That's been part of
my game plan the last little while, and hopefully I can continue
Vrbata's goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage, 53 seconds after
Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad was given a two-minute penalty for
running into Smith and knocking his helmet off. Defenseman Michal
Rozsival was penalized two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct on
the same play.
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"Yard-saled," Smith said with a smile, regarding his loose equipment
on the ice.
"I didn't like that whole sequence of events," said Chicago coach
Joel Quenneville, who was seen yelling at the officials from the
bench. "I didn't like that call at all. I didn't like all three of
those calls or non-calls."
The Coyotes (27-20-10) moved a point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks
into eighth place in the Western Conference. They have not been as
high as eighth since Jan. 10.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 24 saves before he was pulled
with 2:16 remaining.
"We talked a lot about the individual battles," Phoenix coach Dave
Tippett said. "When you have a team like Chicago, if you are not
willing to battle, you are going to get behind."
NOTES: Captain Mike Eruzione, Neil Broten and Buzz Schneider were
among 10 members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning hockey
team honored in a pregame remembrance of the "Miracle on Ice."
Eruzione, who scored the winning goal in the third period of a 4-3
victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 semifinal game, took part
in a ceremonial puck drop. "This is the first time an NHL team has
ever asked the 1980 team to come to an event," Eruzione said. "We're
all proud to celebrate the games coming up in Sochi and give the
Olympians on both teams a great sendoff." ... Chicago F Patrick Kane
missed the game to attend funeral services for his grandfather.
Kane, who leads the Blackhawks with 63 points and is second in goals
with 27, is one of 10 Chicago players in the Winter Olympics. ...
Coyotes C Martin Hanzal (illness) did not dress. He has 14 goals and
36 points. ... Chicago played the final game of a pre-Olympic road
trip while "Disney on Ice" occupies United Center. The Blackhawks
were 3-0-2 in the first five games, including a victory over Western
Conference contender San Jose. ... The Coyotes entered the game with
an average of 2.79 goals per game, their highest rate since the
2005-06 season. ... G Mike Smith will start the Coyotes' final game
before the Olympic break on Saturday at Dallas, coach Dave Tippett
said. ... Coyotes D Derek Morris missed the final two periods with
an upper-body injury and will not play Saturday, Tippett said.
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