It appears the Arizona Coyotes are trying to help Mike Smith make up for lost time, given the number of saves they are forcing him to make.
Mike Smith was brilliant yet again, with 58 saves on 60 shots as the Coyotes fell 3-2 in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
1-0 Columbus - Arizona’s 15 second start against the Los Angeles Kings was somehow beaten by the Blue Jackets, as Boone Jenner scored on Columbus’ first shot of the game. The Blue Jackets executed an excellent three on two, and Jenner finished the play off with a rifle of a shot from the high slot. Assists to Jack Johnson and David Savard on the goal at :13.
1-1 Tie - Radim Vrbata remained hot for the Coyotes, as he scored in the dying seconds of a Coyotes’ power play (which probably was after the man-advantage expired, but the score-sheet says otherwise). Vrbata’s shot from the faceoff circle was too much for Curtis McElhinney to handle as he was still moving over from side to side. Assists to Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Anthony DeAngelo on the power play goal at 1:03.
2-1 Arizona - Shane Doan scored his 399th career goal off of a deflection of a Michael Stone point shot to give the Coyotes a lead at about the midway point of the game. Assist to Stone on the goal at 11:04.
2-2 Tie - As absurdly good as Mike Smith was all night, he eventually buckled under a withering Columbus fusillade. Alexander Wennberg was left all alone in the low slot by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tobias Rieder, and he flipped the puck over the shoulder of Smith on the Blue Jackets’ 49th shot of the game. Assists to Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno on the goal at 17:44.
Overtime was just as action packed as the rest of the game, as the Coyotes and Blue Jackets combined for 17 shots in just five minutes. No goals were scored, and ultimately Cam Atkinson and Sam Gagner would score the lone shootout goals to give the Blue Jackets the win.
- Can the Coyotes get a win against an Eastern Conference team that’s not Philly? - They got a point, but as we’ve been saying repeatedly this year, Mike Smith is the only reason they got even one out of this game.
- Can they help a goalie out and stop with the turnovers? - So, at least they stopped the bleeding on the turnovers. But, allowing 60 shots in 65 minutes is not exactly “helping” Mike Smith out.
- Will this be anything like last season’s game against Columbus? - The biggest difference between this game and games of years’ past was that fewer shots found twine. Both teams combined for 94 shots and 30 PIMs.
Players of the Game
Columbus - Alexander Wennberg - Wennberg scored his sixth goal of the season. The third year veteran has now recorded more than half of his career best in points in one-third as many games.
Arizona - Mike Smith - 58 saves. 58.
BTW, NHL has now credited Mike Smith with 59 saves on 61 shots.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 4, 2016
That is two games’ worth of action for the Coyotes goaltender. You can watch his post game blow. Please take the time to do so.
- For more on the Columbus Blue Jackets, check out The Cannon.
- Anthony DeAngelo returned to the lineup after Jakob Chychrun played in his stead against Los Angeles. He recorded one assist in 17:13.
- Tyler Gaudet made suited up for the Coyotes for the first time since November 8th in Colorado, playing 13:57. He appeared in 14 games for the Coyotes last season.
- Rookie Zach Werenski played 25:19 for the Blue Jackets, recording six shots on goal. His partner Seth Jones played 25:59.
- Not to be outdone, Oliver Ekman-Larsson logged 27:32 worth of ice time, while Connor Murphy recorded 25:21.
- Curtis McElhinney won his first game of the year for the Blue Jackets in his third start. He played two games for the Coyotes in the 2011-12 season.
- Smith’s 58 saves were a franchise record, and the most any goaltender in the NHL has made in a single game this season.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Coyotes will play their opponent twice in a row, as Arizona heads to Columbus on Monday night. Puck drop is at 5 PM Arizona time.