That is what Mike Smith called his shutout performance in the post game interview with Todd Walsh. over the San Jose Sharks. Call it a birthday gift to Matt McConnell and Tyson Nash. Call it the turn around game this franchise. Call it the shovel full of dirt on San Jose. Call it what you want, the Coyotes and their fans needed this game tonight.
Congratulations to Smitty on his fifth shutout of the season. Huge congratulations to Mike Stone on his first NHL goal. Raffi got his 12th goal of the season. Boedker got his first in10 games, second in 30 games. And the defense held strong. It is no fluke that Smitty got the shutout when Rostislav Klesla returned to the lineup tonight. The stat Fox Sports AZ kept showing was the wins and goals against was in favor of the Coyotes when Klesla is in the lineup.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot did a commendable job after being called up to take the 4th line center slot and get 2 assists. OEL and Roszival ate the most minutes (25 and 22 respectively), giving Keith and Adrian some needed rest. Korpikoski laid out the body and took a point blank slapper off the knee. He didn’t miss a shift after skating off in considerable discomfort. Every Coyote slapped him on the back as they came off the ice for his unselfish giving of his body to make a play. Whether we want to admit it or not, the team is in playoff mode. Every game is critical, every point needed. 3 games means the difference between 3rd in the Western Conference and 9th place. 6 points. 3 points separate the Coyotes from Dallas.
Ray Whitney and his skills cannot be talked about enough. 39 years old. Probably the smartest guy on the ice in terms of hockey knowledge. Best hands on the team combined with the confidence to hold the puck and watch the play develop. As if he is seeing it split seconds before it actually occurs. His feeds to Doan on the power play were beautiful. He truly is a Wizard.
A big test awaits Monday with Nashville. Beating Nashville would really put the heat on Dallas and gain even more separation from 8th place Colorado.