Lindback looks forward to regular work in Coyotes’ goal

For Anders Lindback, the opportunity to be a No. 1 goaltender has been six years in the making.

The 27-year-old from Gavle, Sweden, who takes over as the Coyotes’ top goaltender while Mike Smith recovers from abdominal surgery, doesn’t intend to squander it.

"You never want to see a teammate go down like that," Lindback said. "I hope that Mike has a fast recovery, but obviously it’s a big opportunity for me, and I’m excited for that. I have a good feeling about it.

"I’ve been feeling good all season I think we as a group have a chance to get better here if we work hard, and I think we will. It’s a big challenge, but I think we’re all looking forward to it."

The Coyotes return to action Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets (6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona), the third game in a  stretch that will see the Coyotes play eight of their next nine at home.

Lindback has played in 12 games this season, compiling a 4-5-1 record with a .900 save percentage and 2.92 goals-against average. Those numbers are in keeping with his career norms: 44-56-8, .905 save percentage, 2.84 GAA in stops with Nashville, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Buffalo.

He began his NHL career as Pekka Rinne’s backup for two seasons with the Predators and was signed by the Coyotes this past off-season as a free agent. The 26 games he played last season — split between Dallas and Buffalo — were a career high that he’ll likely eclipse in the next month.

"If he plays well, we’re going to play him," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said when asked about Lindback’s workload. "If we need to put somebody else in because he’s tired, we’ll put somebody else in. If we need to put sometbody else in because he doesn’t play well, then we’ll put somebody else in. He’s the guy right now, we’re going to see what he can do."

Lindback said he’s looking forward to regular work.

"When you get to play over and over again every day, you get a little nicer feeling," he said. "Things calm down, you see the game in a different way. It’s not as jumpy.

"I think it’s an advantage, but I have to perform, I have to play good, and I have to give the team a chance every night."

That’s exactly what team captain Shane Doan expects.

"He’s incredibly athletic, competes so hard in every practice on every shot," Doan said. "Goalies, you never know when they’re going to be the guy that takes over and does what they can do. Everybody wants that opportunity, and he’s got it. We’re excited for him."