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AP: ap_81a936cb44b50b0b4f0f6a7067006834
Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith looks at the puck after it hit the post during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Now this is the Mike Smith the Phoenix Coyotes both want and need.

The netminder had struggled for much of the 2013-14 season, but has been a different player since coming back from the Olympic break.

And because of that, the Coyotes are back in the playoff hunt, currently with a hold on the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

"You get on a little bit of a roll," Smith told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. "Wins are so important now; you want to contribute to the team's success.

"I think it's just nice to be playing well and helping the team win."

Smith has been playing quite well, and in the month of March he is 7-3 with a goals against average of just 2.10. He's won seven of his last nine starts, including the last three.

On the season, he is 27-20-10 with a GAA of 2.64.

Smith, who leads the NHL in saves, goals allowed and shots faced, attributes much of the recent success to his teammates.

"Early in the season we were scoring a lot of goals, but we were giving up a lot defensively," he said. "I think as of late we've played a lot better in front of me, which has ultimately made my job a lot easier."

Adam Green, Web Content Editor -

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