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‘Yotes Notes: Smith Shines in Frustrating Loss

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

Goalie Mike Smith made 28 saves on Thursday night at Nashville, including several worthy of inclusion on the highlight shows, but it wasn’t enough as the playoff-bound Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Coyotes, 3-2, in overtime.

“He was the reason we were in the game,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Let’s be serious here, right? He made some great saves throughout the whole game.”

Smith stopped all 18 shots he faced in the first two periods but the Predators scored twice in the third period and once in OT to spoil Smith’s night and drop the Coyotes to 0-2-1 on their season-ending road trip.

Arizona took 18 shots on goal.

“I don't think that was a very good hockey game at all,” Smith said. “I don’t know what to say right now… It was a shinny game for most of that hockey game and obviously disappointing.”

Tippett said he thought the Coyotes were sloppy with the puck.

“I saw some effort but our execution is so poor,” Tippett said. “We’re turning so many pucks over, just giveaways, and they're leading to a lot of chances against. ‘Smitty’ swept up a lot of that stuff but our execution isn’t as good as it needs to be.”

• Center Antoine Vermette scored a goal to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 6:26 of the first period. A shot by defenseman Zbynek Michalek from the point made it through traffic, struck Vermette on the left skate, and slid past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

Vermette has scored seven of his 17 goals this season in the past 17 games.

• Captain Shane Doan scored his 28th goal of the season at 9:42 of the second period. Doan, who is trying to become just the fourth NHLer to lead his team in goal scoring at age 39 or older, one-timed a pass by Brad Richardson between the left post and Rinne to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.

“He’s remarkable,” Tippett said of Doan. “He’s chugging along… He just hasn’t slowed down a bit. It’s a great season for him. Hopefully he can finish it off right on Saturday (at San Jose.)”

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who assisted on both of Arizona’s goals, ranks second on the team with 21 goals with just one game to play.

Jaromir Jagr (with Dallas in 2012-13), John Bucyk (with Boston in 1975-76) and Gordie Howe (with Detroit in 1967-68) are the three 39 or older players who led their team in goals.

• With the loss, the Coyotes dropped to 0-3-2 in their past fives games vs. Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.

• Tippett announced after Thursday’s morning skate that center Martin Hanzal would not play again this season. Hanzal suffered an upper-body injury on March 31 at Dallas and hasn’t played since.

“It’s disappointing,” Tippett said. “He’s a key part of our team... Hopefully he can get healthy soon and be ready to go next year.”

Hanzal set career-highs with 28 assists and 41 points in 64 games this season.

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