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'Yotes Notes: Smith Solid in First Game After Illness

Goalie Mike Smith stopped 34 of 35 shots vs. Kings on Sunday

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

Goalie Mike Smith returned to the Coyotes net on Sunday night vs. Los Angeles at the Staples Center after an illness kept him from starting Friday's game vs. Washington.

Smith was nearly perfect in his return, making 34 saves in a 2-1 win over the Kings.

"It was nice to get back in," Smith said. "I've been battling a little bit of a bug lately, so I think the energy level isn't where I'd like it, but that's partly probably the end of the season and not feeling well for a little while. It was nice to get back in there and get a win and feel good about my game."

The Kings scored their lone goal on a fluke play at 4:21 of the third period. Defenseman Alec Martinez dumped the puck into Arizona's zone from just inside the red line, but it hit Coyotes forward Jordan Martinook's skate and slid past Smith, who was leaning to his right to chase the dump.

"When you play the puck as much as I do, it's going to happen from time to time," Smith said. "It's just an unfortunate bounce. It's no one's fault. It's just an unlucky break there."

Video: Mike Smith discusses Coyotes' 2-1 win at Kings

The Kings out-shot the Coyotes 35-15, but Smith was up to the challenge. 

"We turned over a lot of pucks and brought a lot of pressure on ourselves, but 'Smitty' bailed us out," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We were fortunate to win."

• Forward Anthony Duclair scored his fourth goal of the season at 3:09 of the second period. It was his first goal since Dec. 29.

After he scored, Duclair spread his arms and looked up to the roof as he skated to the right corner.

"It was obviously a relief," Duclair said. "It's been a while ... It's good to see a bounce go my way."

Video: Anthony Duclair discusses Coyotes' 2-1 win at Kings

Duclair notched 20 goals as a rookie last season but has struggled to follow up that performance as a sophomore.

"That's a long time coming for him," Tippett said. "It's good to see him get on the board ... He's a young player that we had high expectations for, and he's got four goals over about 75 games, so he's got some work to do."

Video: Dave Tippett discusses Coyotes' 2-1 win at Kings

• With the win, the Coyotes eliminated the Kings from the race for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We knew they were going to come hard," Smith said. "They were kind of on their last lives. We knew we were in for a good battle tonight and it turned out to be one."

• The Coyotes killed all but one of the Kings' six power plays, including three within the final 12 minutes of the third period.

"Our penalty killers did an unbelievable job tonight," Smith said. "... It's a hard game against a big club and I thought we did a lot of things real well."

• Defenseman Alex Goligoski assisted on Alexander Burmistrov's goal late in the first period to extend his point streak to four games (one goal, three assists).

• Defenseman Kevin Connauton returned to the lineup after missing 15 games because of an upper-body injury. Connauton skated 13:28, took one shot on goal and delivered three hits.

• Arizona won all three games that it played vs. the Kings at the Staples Center this season, and has won five in a row there.

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