Coyotes’ Mike Smith robs Eberle with ‘save-of-year’ candidate

As the losses mount, the frustration continues to pile up for the Coyotes.

It was evident in the post-game comments of coach Dave Tippett and goalie Mike Smith following Monday night’s 3-1 loss at Edmonton, with both questioning a lack of emotional engagement by the team.

No one, however, was questioning the engagement of Smith, who will play in the All-Star game later this month for the first time in his lengthy career. With the Coyotes down 1-0 on Monday, Smith made what Matt McConnell described as a “save of the year” candidate to rob Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle on a clean breakaway. He slid across the crease, sprawled flat across the ice and snared the puck cleanly with his glove hand, just as an incredulous Eberle was about to start his goal celebration.

Unfortunately for Smith, the Oilers maintained the offensive pressure, skating around and past the Coyotes on odd-man rushes time and again — leaving Smith as a one-man defense. Tippett absolved his goaltender when asked by Todd Walsh if he deserved a better fate.

“Much better fate,” he said. “When a goalie plays that well, you’d like to give him a little more help. That wasn’t the case tonight.”