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'Yotes Notes: Smith Looks to Build on 'Best Game' of Season

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Looking to end a personal slump, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stopped 27 of 29 shots on Thursday night in a 2-0 loss at Minnesota.

Smith

"I was hoping for a shutout," Smith told reporters after the game. "(But) it was better. The outcome was disappointing but I definitely felt like we were in the hockey game at least, so that was a positive coming out of that hockey game."

Smith entered the game with a 1-2-0 record and a 5.33 goals-against average.

"I felt better about my game," Smith said. "There's still room for improvement, but it's moving in the right direction."

The Wild scored both goals in the second period after Smith stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first period. It marked the first time this season he didn’t allow a goal before the first intermission.

"It was nice just to get out of the first period and not have the light come on behind me," Smith said. "It's been a while since that happened."

Head Coach Dave Tippett was pleased with Smith’s effort and called it his "best game of the year so far."

Captain Shane Doan also liked what he saw from Smith.

"I'm not the slightest bit worried about him," Doan said. "I know that he's going to end up being the MVP of our team. He's going to be our best player. I'm not too worried about him, and he played great."

Hanzal

• The Coyotes played Thursday's game minus center Martin Hanzal for a second consecutive game. Hanzal suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday against St. Louis and did not accompany the team on the two-game trip to Nashville and Minnesota.

• The Coyotes did not practice on Friday so there was no official update on the status of injured forward David Moss, who left Thursday’s game in the second period because of an upper-body injury he suffered while blocking a shot.

• Center Justin Hodgman will join the Coyotes on Saturday after being recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday. If Moss and Hanzal can’t play, Hodgman will make his NHL debut on Saturday vs. Florida at home.

• Forward Sam Gagner has yet to notch a point after six games with the Coyotes.

"He's probably absorbing a lot," Tippett told reporters this week. "He's got some chances here and there. I'd like to see him work to find more chances."

• Center Antoine Vermette will play in his 400th consecutive NHL game on Saturday vs. Florida. He currently owns the third-longest active consecutive games played streak in the NHL behind only Jay Bouwmeester (723) and Andrew Cogliano (547). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Vermette will become just the 12th NHL player since 2000-01 to play in 400 consecutive games.

Defenseman Keith Yandle is right behind Vermette. Saturday's game will be his 392nd in a row.

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