Mar 1., 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) stretches prior to the game against the Calgary Flames at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Tuesday Smtih would stop 54 shots and tie the franchise record for shutouts in a season with eight. His 54 saves are not only a franchise record, but are the most in a shutout in over 30 years in the NHL.
The Coyote goaltender now has a shutout streak that has lasted 219 minutes, 59 seconds, shutting out San Jose, Anaheim and Columbus.
The NHL-record is held by former Coyote goaltender Brian Boucher with a 332:01 streak, and Smith would break it by just over eight minutes if he shut out the Coyotes remaining two opponents.
"I would think that's what you would call a guy being in the zone," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We peppered him all game."
The only scoring in the game would come in just over a two minute span. Boyd Gordon would light the lamp for his for his first goal in 23 games at 5:54 of the second period and then Gilbert Brule would tally his fifth of the year at 7:48.
A two goal lead is more than enough cushion when you have the NHL's hottest goaltender in net behind you.
The first Coyote goal started with a beautiful pass from Lauri Korpikoski after he dug a puck out of a corner and dished it to a waiting Gordon waiting just outside the crease.
"I was thinking I was going to shoot, but I had a little more time and I saw Gordo there and he made a nice shot," Korpikoski said.
While Smith was stellar in net, the penalty kill unit should get some praise as well. The NHL's eighth ranked penalty kill unit managed to keep the Blue Jackets from scoring on seven power play attempts.
The Coyotes, now with 93 points, draw even with idle division leader Los Angeles and one point ahead of San Jose.
The most important development however is that the Dallas Stars lost Tuesday night, dropping them four points behind the Coyotes. If the Stars lose, or the Coyotes win either of their remaining games, the Coyotes will lock up a spot in the postseason for a third consecutive year.
A crowd of 13,263 was on hand to cheer on the Coyotes in their final regular season game, and possibly the last in the desert, but by the looks of it, Coyote fans will be having a lot to cheer about come playoff time.