Smith gets first shutout as Coyotes hold off Canucks
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)
Smith stopped 29 shots for his first shutout of the season, Antoine Vermette had a power-play goal in the first period and the Coyotes beat the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 on Thursday night to stop a four-game losing streak.
''It's hard to win in this league and especially lately,'' Smith said. ''We did a lot of good things that we can build on, and hopefully got the monkey off our back.''
In a game full of penalties and killed power plays, the Coyotes got stellar goaltending, 20 minutes of penalty killing and just enough offense while the Canucks continued to struggle on offense. Phoenix also got a break on a reviewed goal in the third period.
Vancouver lost for the eighth time in nine games as an apparent goal from captain Henrik Sedin near the midpoint of the third was waved off after a replay review.
Smith stopped Kevin Bieksa's shot but the rebound came to Sedin, who knocked the puck into the net with his hand, it was determined. The Canucks have one goal in their last three games and lost all three on their road trip to Southern California and Arizona.
''Making saves to give the team a chance to win,'' Smith said. ''The shutout is just obviously a bonus but if you don't get it, you don't win the game, or you might, but it's not something I look at.''
Still, Vancouver had a chance to draw even after a high-sticking double-minor against center Martin Hanzal late in the game. The Canucks were on a power play for all but the last 4 seconds of the game, with six attackers for the final minute, but failed to score.
The teams combined for five power plays in the first period, three for the Canucks and two for the Coyotes. Phoenix scored on its second man-advantage situation with 7:09 remaining in the period.
Keith Yandle faked a shot from the point and passed to Vermette in front of the red line almost directly to goaltender Eddie Lack's left. Vermette took the tough-angle shot and the puck glanced off a Canucks defender and past Lack.
''I think it's a good sign,'' Vermette said.
Earlier, Lack's reflexes kept the game scoreless when he turned away a good opportunity for Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the 6:18 mark.
The Canucks started the second period on a power play that didn't produce results. Daniel Sedin had an open net 4:32 into the period, but his shot sailed high and over the goal.
Vancouver coach John Tortorella said confidence isn't the issue with his team.
''It's a team that is having a hell of a time making an offensive play,'' he said. ''It's a game of those little details, so it's been tough sledding as far as developing offense.
''This stuff, lack of confidence and this and that, we're grown men here,'' Tortorella added. ''It's a big part of our business is to make big plays at key times, so I don't buy the confidence. We just simply have to get something done.''
The Coyotes had a 3-on-1 chance with just over 8 minutes left in the second, but Lack stretched out to stop Radim Vrbata's shot and the Canucks cleared the puck, to the delight of a large contingent of blue-clad Vancouver fans inside Jobing.com Arena.
Ekman-Larsson hit the post with a shot with 24 seconds left in the period and the Coyotes on their fifth power play of the game. Vancouver's penalty minutes were an improvement from the 142 combined from the Canucks' previous two games.
The Canucks had several good chances in the third period but Smith turned them away each time, including a save on Brad Richardson's wrist shot with no defender in front of him at the 1:20 mark.
''A shutout for Smitty, our penalty killing was very good, just a hard-fought game which I think is good for our team right now,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
NOTES: The Coyotes improved to 16-7-3 this season when scoring first. ... Phoenix waived D Rostislav Klesla before Thursday's game, and activated D Zbynek Michalek from injured reserve. It was the first game action for Michalek since Dec. 17 at Montreal, when he suffered a lower body injury. ... Canucks G Roberto Luongo missed his sixth straight game with an ankle injury. ... Vancouver C Mike Santorelli left the game with an injury in the second period and left the arena with his right arm in a sling. Tortorella would not give any details on the injury nor the one sustained by David Booth, who drew Hanzal's double-minor and was helped off the ice. ... Phoenix and Vancouver meet twice more this season, once in each city.