GLENDALE, Ariz. – Mike Smith continues to struggle between the pipes and Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett will sit his No. 1 goaltender in favor of backup Thomas Greiss for the second time in three games Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Smith was named to Canada's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics this week, but on the ice things aren't going well. He stopped 25 of 28 shots in a 4-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, and the game-winning goal by Kyle Brodziak was one Smith would like to have back.
"[Smith] needs some work with his game and [goalie coach Sean Burke] wanted to work with him for a couple days," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Greiss has played very well lately, so we're going to him tonight and we'll see if we can get a win."
The Wild jumped past Phoenix into the final Western Conference playoff spot Thursday but Tippett said he doesn't regret going with his struggling goalie. Smith has one win in his last nine decisions (1-5-3) and he has three wins in his last 17 starts. His goals-against average has risen to 2.90 and he hasn't given the Coyotes the consistent play they crave in net.
"[Smith] was really good in practice the day before. We looked at that as a pivotal game in the standings and we wanted to have our No. 1 guy in. It didn't turn out the way we want it. He's got some work to do," Tippett said.
While Smith has struggled, Greiss has been a pleasant surprise for Phoenix. He is 6-2-1 this season and lowered his goals-against average to 1.89 with a 6-0 shutout win Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. Signed as a free agent this past summer, Greiss has a .937 save percentage and has given the Coyotes a strong game in nearly every appearance this season.
The Coyotes could get Kyle Chipchura back Saturday. He sat out the Minnesota loss with a lower-body injury but was on the ice for the Saturday skate. The only other injured player for the Coyotes, defenseman Zbynek Michalek, is now skating daily and closing in on a return.
The Ducks have won 15 of their past 16 games and are going for a sixth straight win. One Saturday would complete a five-game season sweep of the Coyotes, who have already lost three times in Anaheim this year.
The Ducks will rest Teemu Selanne Saturday with a game Sunday at home against the Detroit Red Wings looming. Dustin Penner's shoulder is improved and he is back in the lineup for Anaheim.
Goalie Jonas Hiller is going for his 13th straight win and his 22nd in 31 decisions this season.
Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Daniel Winnik - Saku Koivu - Andrew Cogliano
Jakob Silfverberg - Mathieu Perreault - Matt Beleskey
Kyle Palmieri - Nick Bonino - Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin
Mark Fistric - Sami Vatanen
Scratched: Nolan Yonkman, Patrick Maroon, Teemu Selanne
Shane Doan – Mike Ribeiro – Mikkel Boedker
Lauri Korpikoski – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Rob Klinkhammer– Antoine Vermette – David Moss
Kyle Chipchura – Jeff Halpern – Paul Bissonnette
Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Connor Murphy
Rostislav Klesla – Michael Stone
Scratched: David Rundblad, David Schlemko, Tim Kennedy
Injured: Zbynek Michalek (hip)