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‘Yotes Notes: Smith Posts Shutout in Impressive Home Finale

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – The Coyotes sent a sell-out crowd home happy on Saturday night with a resounding 3-0 victory over the Washington Capitals in their final game at Gila River Arena this season.

Goalie Mike Smith was the star as he made 31 saves to earn his 30th NHL shutout against a team with 116 points already in the bank with still a week left in the regular season.

“We played really well against the best team in the League,” Smith said. “I think it just shows what kind of character (we have). We don’t have a lot to play for but there's a lot of pride in this room… It was our last game at home this year so I think it was an important one for our team and our group to go out on a high note for our fans.”

Smith has allowed two goals or less in six of the seven games he has played since returning from core muscle surgery in December. In those games he has stopped 225 of 234 shots (.962 save percentage).

• Captain Shane Doan scored his 27th goal of the season at 5:18 of the third period after the teams battled to a scoreless tie for two periods.

“We were aware that they played last night and flew in from Colorado, but at the same time it was more about us just finding a way to win our last period at home for the year,” Doan said.

He added, “Nobody wants to end the season in the regular season and have your last home game be a regular-season game. But, if you do, then you want to find a way to win it. It’s nice to do, especially against that team. Historically they’re a good team.”

• Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who before the game was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for the season, returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game because of illness and scored his 21st goal of the season 27 seconds after Doan scored. Forward Brad Richardson capped the scoring by netting his 10th goal of the season at 13:58.

Max Domi assisted on Doan’s goal and Richardson’s goal for assists Nos. 32 and 33 and became just the second rookie in Arizona history to produce 50 points in a season. With his helper on Richardson’s goal, Domi surpassed Peter Mueller’s record for assists in a season by a Coyotes rookie (32 in 2007-08).

“To be honest, I don’t really care,” Domi said with a smile. “The team won so that’s all that we’re really worried about. It was a good win tonight.”

• Center Laurent Dauphin replaced center Martin Hanzal in the lineup. Hanzal is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Dauphin played 13:51 and blocked a shot.

• The Coyotes finished the season with 22 home wins, 11 more than what they earned last season.

• After the game, the Coyotes saluted the fans by raising their sticks while assembled at center ice, and then took the jerseys off their backs and presented them to select fans on the ice.

“I think the guys enjoyed themselves out there,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “It’s a different feeling (than last season). The atmosphere around our team, you see the way a guy like Max Domi played tonight, there’s lots of hope here. We took a step forward but there is still a lot more work to be done.”

• Arizona native Auston Matthews, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL Draft, attended Saturday’s game.

“The Coyotes are the reason I started playing hockey,” Matthews said during an in-game interview. “We're pretty fortunate to have them in the Valley.”

Later, Matthews told FOX Sports Arizona he wouldn’t mind playing for the Coyotes someday. Click HERE to watch the interview.

“Ask anybody if they’d love to play for their hometown team,” Matthews said. “It would be pretty special, but just to be drafted and play in the NHL would obviously be a huge honor.”

Matthews said the Coyotes have done a lot to grow the sport of hockey in Arizona.

“They’re doing an excellent job,” he said. “It's been pretty fun to be part of it."

• Boxer Shane Mosley visited the Coyotes dressing room after the game and mingled/took photos with some of the players.

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