Smith puts shutout streak on line against Blues
Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 11:46 PMCOYOTES (40-27-13) at BLUES (48-21-11)
TV: NBCSN (HD), TSN2
Phoenix 6-2-2; St. Louis 3-3-4
Fourth and final meeting. The Blues are aiming for a sweep, having outscored the Coyotes 11-3 in the first three matchups. However, two of those games were started by Phoenix backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
There's little doubt who will be in net Friday with Phoenix fighting for the Pacific Division title and No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Mike Smith
is set to aim for his fourth consecutive shutout, having already put together a streak of nearly 220 scoreless minutes. He also set an NHL record in his last start for most saves made in a shutout performance, stopping 54 shots by Columbus in a 2-0 win.
As brilliant as Smith was during the 11-0-1 run Phoenix put together during the month of February, he's been even better at a time in the season when the Coyotes could easily be on the outside looking in without a big save at a key moment in several recent games. Thirty-nine saves is often enough to earn a goalie the game's No. 1 star -- Smith faced that many pucks in the first two periods alone against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday and got them all. Boyd Gordon
and Gilbert Brule
scored 2:03 apart in the second and Smith finished off his eighth shutout of the season, tying the franchise record.
"It was great that this run came at home and everyone could share in it," said Smith, who had the Jobing.com Arena crowd chanting his name in the third period. "It's been an honor to play in front of our fans and fun to play in the desert this year. Now we'll take it on the road and see what happens."
Speaking of red-hot goalies going for a fourth straight shutout, that's what St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott
had in mind Wednesday against Detroit, and he got most of the way there. The game was scoreless entering the third period and the Blues built a 2-0 lead as David Perron
lit the lamp shorthanded at 7:18 and Andy McDonald
added a goal 3:01 later. Elliott was just over six minutes from blanking the Red Wings, but Johan Franzen scored twice in a span of 2:15 to force overtime, and Detroit went on to defeat St. Louis 3-2 in a shootout, the 10th time this season the Blues have lost in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"We got away from checking and limiting their chances in the offensive zone," forward T.J. Oshie
said of Detroit. "Obviously they're going to get them, they're a great team. They have some high-end skill on their team, but we can't be giving up goals like we did.
Smith has stopped the last 157 shots he's faced since allowing a Daniel Winnik goal in the second period of a March 24 game against the Sharks. ... Perron has scored a goal in four consecutive games for the Blues. McDonald has at least a point in 11 of his last 13 games, registering 7 goals and 8 assists over that span.
Neither team lists any significant injuries.
Smith is 18-5-2 when getting at least two days off between starts, as will be the case in this game. He surpassed Nikolai Khabibulin's scoreless run of 204:13 against the Blue Jackets, but is still well short of the franchise and NHL record set by Brian Boucher in 2003-04 -- 332 minutes, 1 second.
Elliott, meanwhile, ran his shutout streak to 241:33 before the first of Franzen's goals Wednesday. Both teams play their regular-season finale on Saturday, and with St. Louis splitting the starts among its tandem of Elliott and Jaroslav Halak
fairly evenly it's probable each gets one more start before the playoffs.