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Smith stays clean as Coyotes beat Blue Jackets
Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) - Mike Smith set a Coyotes franchise record with 54 saves to post his third straight shutout, and Phoenix inched closer to the playoffs with a 2-0 victory over Columbus.
Smith's save total on Tuesday eclipsed the 51-stop performance from Nikolai Khabibulin against Philadelphia on Jan. 28, 1997. Additionally, Smith's eight shutouts this season ties a team record.
Smith, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts against San Jose and Anaheim, has a shutout streak of 219:59, which is the second-longest in franchise annals, well short of the 332:01 run from Brian Boucher during the 2003-04 season.
Boyd Gordon and Gilbert Brule scored 2:03 apart in the second period, as the Coyotes remained a point ahead of San Jose for the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Sharks won at Dallas Tuesday night.
Phoenix has yet to clinch a playoff spot, but is in the driver's seat. The Coyotes, who are four points ahead of ninth-place Dallas, finish the season with road games against St. Louis (Friday) and Minnesota (Saturday). San Jose and the Stars also have two games remaining.
"It was a big game for us to get two points and move up in the standings," Smith said.
Allen York made 20 saves for the Blue Jackets, who had a three-game winning streak broken.
"I thought our power play was good," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "I thought we created traffic, had opportunities, had breakaways, 2-on-1s. Clearly the difference in the game was the goaltender."
Gordon scored 5:45 into the second when Lauri Korpikoski sent a cross-ice pass from the right circle. Gordon then beat York up high.
A short time later, Brule, stationed in front, took a left circle pass from Michal Rozsival and notched his fifth goal of the season.
The spotlight, though, was on Smith. The 30-year-old, who stopped a total of 82 shots in his previous two games and was riding a shutout streak of 159:59 entering Tuesday, made a spectacular glove save on a close-in shot from James Wisniewski. Despite sprawling to the ice, Smith lifted up his glove to snare the rising shot from the right circle with 7:21 left in the second.
Nearly a minute later, Smith denied R.J. Umberger on a breakaway and then stopped the follow attempt from in front by Cam Atkinson.
Smith took a puck off the chin, but held on for a save with two minutes left in regulation. For good measure, with 17.4 seconds to go, he made a spectacular glove save on a low shot that was headed into the net.
Phoenix has earned at least a point in 11 of the last 13 games (7-2-4), and has 40 victories for the third consecutive season, which is a franchise first...Smith has 19 career shutouts...The Coyotes went 1-3 this season vs. Columbus.
04/04 02:01:35 ET