Arizona Coyotes Lose Despite Smith’s 58 Saves

Dec 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) defends during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) defends during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Coyotes hosted Star Wars night at Gila River Arena on Saturday night as they wrapped up their three game home-stand.

The force was not with the Arizona Coyotes.

Arizona fell in a shootout to the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets, and now fall to 8-11-4 on the season.

The win secured a point in five straight games now for the Blue Jackets. They are now 8-1-2 in their last 11 games.

Much like on Thursday against Los Angeles, the scoring started within 30 seconds.

This time, it was the Blue Jackets who struck first. Boone Jenner snapped his shot over the blocker of Mike Smith to give Columbus the early lead.

The first period has not been friendly to the Coyotes, and it wasn’t yet again on Saturday. They were outshot 12-5 after one period of play.

Clearly, Dave Tippett sparked some new found energy in his young club, as the desert dogs came out in the second period firing on all cylinders.

They struck right away as Oliver Ekman-Larsson made a beautiful cross ice pass to the teams’ leading goal scorer, Radim Vrbata.

He roofed it over the blocker of Curtis McElhinney to tie the game at one.

There wasn’t one player in particular who stood out in the second period for the Coyotes. It was an all-around team effort and it paid off.

The Coyotes took the lead with 8:56 remaining the second period, when Michael Stone threw the puck from the point into a slew of Blue Jackets in front of the net around McElhinney.

In the middle of that crowd was the Captain, Shane Doan. It was his 399th career goal.

He redirected the Stone shot and ended up past McElhinney to give the Coyotes the lead as they headed into the second intermission.

The third period was an onslaught by the Blue Jackets.

They  peppered Smith with shots from every angle and every given opportunity. Smith was looking like the Mike Smith from 2012 in the third period.

But at 17:44 of the period, just as the Arizona Coyotes looked like they were going to pull it out, Columbus got one past Smith.

22-year old rookie Alexander Wennberg put home the loose change off a rebound that fell right on his stick to tie the game up at 2.

The game went into overtime.

Both teams exchanged solid chances on every possession. At one point, Smith, who is known for playing the puck frequently, opted to pass as it looked like he was going to cover the puck up. He found Shane Doan on a stride, and he was off to the races.

It was a 2-on-0. Doan opted for the shot instead of the pass, and McElhinney denied him. That was the best chance the Coyotes had in the five minute overtime.

Smith prevented the Blue Jackets from scoring and the two sides went to the shootout.

In the shootout, Anthony Duclair missed for the Arizona Coyotes.

Cam Atkinson completely fooled Smith and put it past him to give the Jackets the upper hand.

Vrbata, who has the record for most goals in NHL shootout history, was denied by McElhinney as he opted to go forehand, five-hole.

Former Coyote Sam Gagner sent everyone home as he roofed his shot over the catching glove of Smith, and gave the Jackets the win.

Much like the entire season, it was evident the Coyotes were playing “Hockey The Hard Way” in the second period. The first period? Not so much.

The Blue Jackets threw shots on Mike Smith all night long. Smith finished the game with 58 saves, yes you read that right. That is now the franchise record for most saves on one game.

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That shattered Smith’s old record of most saves in a game that dated back to 2012 when he stopped 54 pucks that came his way against the same Columbus Blue Jackets squad.

This marked the Coyotes as the 9th team since 1987-88 to allow 60 or more shots in a regular season game. It was the first time since 2009, when the Islanders took on the Maple Leafs, in which New York got 61 shots on goal.

What I Saw

The Arizona Coyotes did not play a good game. They did not deserve to win the game.

Their play in the third period was one of the worst periods they have played all season.

Mike Smith singlehanded almost won the Coyotes that game. If you thought that Smith hasn’t had some kind of resurrection over these last few weeks, look and think again.

I was highly impressed with the speed of this young Blue Jackets team.

John Tortorella, whom I consider to be one of the league’s best coaches, really seemed to have instilled a winning mentality in his young bunch.

From Brandon Saad to Brandon Dubinsky, they have a large amount of options up front and their defense, led by Seth Jones, is so special. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued to see the success the Jackets for the rest of the season.

For the Coyotes, there really isn’t much to say.

Other than Mike Smith standing on his head, there was not one player that stood out to me. Michael Stone was out for the entire 1:30 of the 5-on-3 penalty kill in the third period and then finished the kill. So he was out there for over two whole minutes on that kill. That sequence did stand out.

Related Story: Three Thoughts To Improve The Coyotes' Fortunes In 2016-17

I want to see the Coyotes use their young legs and generate more speed as they enter into the offensive zone. It looks like at times they just stop and freeze before they enter the zone.

With a whole slew of young talent, the Coyotes need to use their youth to their advantage more often.

Players of the Game

Columbus Blue Jackets: Alexander Wennberg

This kid impressed me on Saturday night.

The rookie was flying all over the ice and his speed was on full display. Ok, his goal in the second period wasn’t all him, but he was in the right place at the right time. He looked to be the one Blue Jacket who was always in the right place at the right time on Saturday.

And his entire team backed him up in the victory.

Arizona Coyotes: Mike Smith

There is nothing else to say. 58 saves, win or lose, you are the player of the game.

What’s Next

The Coyotes wrapped up the three game homestand which ended in three losses, one overtime, one in a shootout, and one by regulation.

Next: Will Martin Hanzal Be Traded Or Will Chayka Look To Re-Sign Him?

They will look for revenge against the Blue Jackets on Monday, as they travel to Nationwide Arena to battle out with the Jackets.

They will then head straight to Chicago the next night as they take on the Blackhawks.