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game recap

Coyotes shut out Capitals in home finale

Smith makes 31 saves, Doan triggers three-goal third period

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

Smith flashes leather on Ovechkin

WSH@ARI: Smith robs Ovechkin with the glove

4/2/16: Alex Ovechkin elects to shoot on a two-on-one, but his wicked wrist shot is stopped by Mike Smith's smooth glove save in the 2nd

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For goaltender Mike Smith, a great start to the 2015-16 season disintegrated into struggles, injuries and finally an operation that kept him away from the Arizona Coyotes for three months. But in the final weeks of the season, a healthy Smith is showing that he's still capable of carrying the load.

Smith made 31 saves for his 30th NHL shutout, and Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 27 seconds apart early in the third period to help the Coyotes to a 3-0 win against the Washington Capitals at Gila River Arena on Saturday.

Smith has two of his three shutouts this season since returning from a lower-body injury on March 12. He's allowed nine goals on 234 shots during that span for a .962 save percentage, and given up two goals or fewer in six of seven starts.

"It was important for me personally, coming off the injury and not playing a lot, to come back and show myself and the team and the organization that I can still play when I'm healthy," Smith said. "It was our last home game and we played really well against the best team in the League."

Video: WSH@ARI: Smith vexes Capitals in shutout win

The Coyotes' 22nd home win doubled their total from last season.

"We aren't going to the playoffs, but we've improve by leaps and bounds over last season," Smith said. "If we make this much improvement next season we're having a different conversation."

The Coyotes (35-36-7) had the first six shots of the third period before Doan deflected Max Domi's floater past Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer at 5:18 for his 27th goal and a 1-0 lead. It came seconds after Arizona defenseman Zbynek Michalek stopped a shot by Evgeny Kuznetsov in the crease with his skate, preventing a goal that would have given Washington the lead.

At 5:45, Alex Tanguay set up Ekman-Larsson at the point for a shot that deflected off the stick of Washington's T.J. Oshie and bounced past Grubauer, putting Arizona up 2-0. It was Ekman-Larsson's 21st goal, two shy of his career high.

"They played a solid game and they didn't stop," Oshie said. "They finally got one to break it open on a good tip and the second one going in the way it did, it kills your mojo a little.

Video: WSH@ARI: Ekman-Larsson's shot finds a way in

"After that, you hope for a team to kind of sit back, that's kind of where we usually take advantage. But they didn't sit back. We didn't have an answer for it. We didn't play great but they played a really solid game."

Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov each hit the post in the third period before Brad Richardson scored his 10th of the season at 13:58 to make it 3-0.

Domi's assist on Richardson's goal was his second of the game and 33rd of the season, the most by a rookie since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1996. He has 51 points.

"That's the best team in the league and we found a way to stay in it and [Smith] was unbelievable," Domi said. "It's tough to wrap your head around the fact you're not going to the playoffs, but the whole team is playing well and finishing strong. We know we don't want to have this feeling again. We want to keep playing."

Video: WSH@ARI: Grubauer makes a fine save on Duclair

Grubauer made 24 saves for Washington (55-17-6), which has been shut out twice in its past five games. The Capitals have hit seven posts in their past two games.

"We're getting chances. It's not a matter of not getting any shots," Washington forward Jay Beagle said. "We had Grade-A chances. We're hitting posts all over the place. We just have to keep getting those chances and eventually they will start going in."

The Capitals have already wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy as the regular-season champion; with 116 points, they are five shy of the franchise record of 121, set during the 2009-10 season. Washington plays three of its final four games at Verizon Center, beginning Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

The Coyotes begin a season-ending four-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

Video: Smith's shutout leads Coyotes over Caps

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