Phoenix Coyotes Beat Panthers But Lose Goalie Mike Smith To Injury

The Coyotes won the game 2-1 but may have suffered a longer term loss with goalie Mike Smith being forced to leave the game with an injury.

Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Jason LaBarbera watched the first two periods on the bench before he was called upon to relieve an injured Mike Smith early in the third.

LaBarbera turned aside all eight shots he faced, including a penalty shot by Florida's Stephen Weiss with 25 seconds to play, to preserve a 2-1 victory for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Smith suffered a possible groin injury while stretching to stop a shot by Panthers defenseman Jason Garrisonat the 3:29 mark.

Florida pressed for the equalizer and were awarded a penalty shot after a pair of Coyotes players pushed the net off its moorings. Weiss' shot trickled through LaBarbera but slid to a stop as it reached the goal line.

"That's [LaBarbera's] role on our team is just that. Whenever he is called upon, he's got to do his job. Great to see him jump in there and do it," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.

Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata both scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, who improved to 4-6-0 in December. Smith finished with 19 saves.

Jose Theodore made 20 saves for Florida, which had its home points streak snapped at eight games (6-0-2).

On the other hand, one streak was extended as each of the Panthers' last 13 home games have been decided by one goal (6-2-5).

The Coyotes opened the scoring late in the first period on a 5-on-3 power play as Oliver Ekman-Larsson fed Whitney for a one-timer in the left circle with seven seconds remaining.

Vrbata doubled Phoenix's lead off a feed from Keith Yandle at the 9:02 mark of the second period. Brian Campbell put Florida on the board with 2:18 to play in the middle stanza.

Whitney scored his 100th career power-play goal...The Panthers lost in regulation on home ice for the first time since November 13 against Philadelphia.

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