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Mike Smith stops regulation-record 54 shots for third straight shutout

Apr 4, 2012, 12:53 AM EDT

Mike Smith Getty Images

Ilya Bryzgalov might have been the first star of March but Mike Smith has easily been one of the best steals of the 2011 free agent summer. Considering his struggles in Tampa Bay, it’s understandable that many downplay his accomplishments as the mere product of Dave Tippett’s system, but he’s putting up the numbers of a star whether he is one or not.

That’s been especially true lately, when Phoenix needs him to play like a Vezina winner – and he’s delivered to a stunning degree. Tonight may rank as his masterpiece, however, as he extended his shutout streak to three consecutive games by stopping 54 Columbus Blue Jackets shots in a 2-0 win.

Update: his masterpiece will go down in NHL history, by the way. Bruce McCurdy confirms that 54 saves sets the new mark for the most in a regulation game. Yeah, that’s impressive.

Sure the Coyotes were “supposed” to win, yet the Blue Jackets have delighted in playing the spoiler lately with three straight wins against playoff-level teams. Obviously Columbus didn’t just roll over against Phoenix – Jack Johnson had eight shots alone – but Smith dazzled in giving the desert dogs a great chance to win at least the seventh seed (if not the Pacific Division).

With that in mind, here’s how that fuzzy situation looks now:

3. Los Angeles – 93 points, 34 regulation/OT wins with two games left

7. Phoenix – 93 points, 34 regulation/OT wins with two games left
8. San Jose – 92 points, 33 regulation/OT wins with two games left

9. Dallas – 89 points, 35 regulation/OT wins with two games left
10. Colorado – 88 points, 32 regulation/OT wins with two games left

The Coyotes and Kings have identical records – even standard wins with 40 each – so Los Angeles likely holds the season series advantage (or perhaps a more obscure tiebreaker). The good news is that the Sharks and Kings close out their seasons with a home-and-home, so one way or another they’ll probably get some help.

Colorado is already irrelevant to Phoenix since it tops out at 92 points while the Stars would be out of the picture if the Coyotes gain a single point. So, yes, the playoffs aren’t a guarantee in Glendale – but they’re awfully close to that.

Perhaps the best news is that the Coyotes won’t have to worry about the Detroit Red Wings in the first round this time – although Smith at least wouldn’t carry the same baggage as his universe-pondering predecessor in the first place.

  1. yotesfan3 - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Smith is a stud!! Go yotes!!

  2. num1eaglesfanyo - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    I picked up Mike Smith in fantasy week 1 and he has done me no wrong. If the coyotes make a playoff run best believe its cause of Smith….on that note LET’S GO FLYERS!! !!!

  3. trbowman - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    Don’t the Stars own the tiebreaker over the Yotes with more regulation wins?

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:59 AM

      The Yotes won tonight so they now are up by 4pts. Their loss to SJ tonight puts them 3pts behind the Sharks now, however, should they somehow end the season tied with the Sharks, or Yotes, or Kings in points then Yes, they would own the tiebreaker with more regulation wins than Any of the other teams. (seems a little screwy huh)

    • James O'Brien - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:36 AM

      Yes, they do own that tiebreaker. Wasn’t focused on that in the breakdown since Phoenix needs so little to make it difficult to impossible to tie it up.

  4. bethgoesglobal - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    This guy has been a Rockstar for the Yotes this year! This team will not slip away quietly into (and out of) the blackest of AZ nights! I may be a Caps and Wild fan but the Yotes are a team that I’ve grown to really like over the past few years. If they keep playing like this, and Smith continue to stand large in that net, they could have a very nice run in the playoffs. I’ll be cheering for ’em!!

    • creasemasta41 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:16 AM

      wow thats gotta suck to be a fan of the caps and wild…

      • bethgoesglobal - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:41 AM

        Nah, it makes me a stronger person- lol.

        Besides, I’ve been a Caps fan since I was about 8, so 20+ yrs; not about to stop now- after all I’ve seen worse. Now I live in MN, so the WIld are my home team; becoming a fan of them has been a bit of a process (but again- I’ve been a Caps fan for years, so I’m used to it) :-)

  5. proudliberal85392 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    I was at the game tonight and can attest Smitty’s performance was sick. I’m still not sure how he made some of those saves. By the way, he also faced 34 scoring chances. Go Yotes!

  6. iamanidiotfan - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    With that many saves, you could be fooled into thinking the game went into double overtime. Impressive game, impressive record. And they have a shot at a top-3 seed. Good luck to Phoenix.

  7. Stiller43 - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Who the hell is mike smith?

  8. wj4122 - Apr 6, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Hopefully he can help stop the yotes from leaving az!!!!

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