When Mike Smith took the ice at Gila River Arena Tuesday night, he was beaten often in a 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Part of the recipe for being a successful NHL goalie is having a short memory. Smith looked practically like an amnesiac Thursday, notching 34 saves as the Arizona Coytoes beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 in front of 11,390 fans at Gila River Arena.
Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, captain Shane Doan had a three-point night and Smith was back on his game in net for Arizona.
“He’s really putting a lot of work in to try to get his game in order,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said after the game. “We’ve been looking for positive signs and after the 6-0 game, we said we saw more positive signs, well we saw more positive signs tonight so hopefully were going in the right direction. If you want players to play better, you need to give them the opportunity to play better.”
And play better, Smith did. The 32-year-old allowed only a third-period goal to Mathieu Perreault that pulled the Jets to within two goals at 3-1, but Boedker answered a little more than two minutes later to increase the cushion.
“That was a tremendous goal at the perfect time of the game,” Smith said. “They had just scored and they were kind of making a push. We didn’t want to say ‘Oh, here we go again.’ We wanted to step on the gas and kind of give a push back and that goal was obviously a huge goal for us.”
The Coyotes (16-20-4) took pressure off of Smith early, scoring two power play goals in the first 3:18 of the game. The relaxed goalie then took over from there.
“It was great,” Smith said of the early offensive support. “It was nice to get up a couple goals early right off the bat. The power play did a great job for us all night long and we just continued with that momentum throughout the game.”
Smith looked more like the goalie who helped the ‘Yotes to the Western Conference Finals in 2012 than he has in quite some time Thursday night.
“I feel like the last couple weeks I’ve turned the corner and got a little swagger back in my game,” he said. “It’s nice to get rewarded tonight.”
The Coyotes continue their homestand Saturday when they host the Ottawa Senators in Glendale. The puck drops at 5:00 p.m. and the game can be heard on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.