Smith posts 21st shutout as Dvorak, Coyotes douse Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — Christian Dvorak has clearly shaken off the rookie jitters.
Dvorak had two goals and an assist and Mike Smith made 36 saves for his 32nd career shutout as the surging Arizona Coyotes beat the Calgary Flames 5-0 on Monday night.
Dvorak’s third multi-point effort in the last five games gave the rookie seven points (five goals and two assists) over that span. He had just 13 points in the first 45 games.
“The first 20 or 30 games, he’s just happy to be in the league,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. “He recognizes that he’s capable of playing here and he’s doing things right and he’s not in awe of people anymore. He just goes out there and plays and he’s a really good player.”
Dvorak, who was linemates with Toronto’s Mitch Marner and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk last season on the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, agreed.
“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and more confident as the season has gone on,” Dvorak said. “Gelling with my linemates, forming some chemistry and we’ve been playing pretty well as of late.”
Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and Justin Martinook also scored for the Coyotes, who have points in four straight (3-0-1) and are 6-2-1 in their last nine.
Chad Johnson had 19 saves through two periods and was replaced by Brian Elliott to start the third with the Flames trailing 4-0. Elliott stopped eight of the nine shots he faced.
Dvorak’s eighth goal of the season came 2:38 into the second period as he whipped a shot over Johnson’s glove for the first of three Arizona goals in the second period.
That was followed by a great effort from Martinook, who corralled a dump-in off the corner boards and after muscling his way past defenseman Dennis Wideman, zipped a shot under the cross bar to make it 3-0 at 4:04.
Dvorak then showcased his passing ability on an odd-man rush. Carrying the puck down the wing, he found Luke Schenn in the high slot coming late and as the defenseman cut to the net, he had it glance in off White’s skate with 8:52 left in the middle period.
“If the shot is there, I’ll shoot it. If the pass is there, I’ll pass it. I’m just trying to make some plays out there while making sure I’m responsible defensively as well,” said Dvorak, a second-round pick in 2014.
Starting his ninth consecutive game, Smith was busiest in the first period when the Coyotes were outshot 19-9 yet emerged with a 1-0 lead on a goal by Hanzal.
“We were able to weather that storm and get out of that first period ahead,” Tippett said. “We hadn’t played our best hockey yet so it was definitely nice to come back in the second, get our feet moving, make some plays.”
Calgary was playing for the first time since a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh last Tuesday night. The Flames had won four of five going into their break.
“We weren’t sharp,” said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan. “It was more execution. Some pucks missed the net, were shot over the net.”
Shortly after Gulutzan replaced Johnson with Elliott to start the third, Dvorak adding his second at 2:12.
“We’re either really good or really bad. There’s no middle right now,” Johnson said.
Smith’s second shutout of the season gave him 21 with the Coyotes, tying him with Nikolai Khabibulin and Ilya Bryzgalov for the franchise lead.
“Guys have embraced it,” Smith said on the role of spoiler.”Guys have grasped onto it that we want to continue to improve, continue to get better and we want to be a caliber of the teams we’re playing against. ”
NOTES: Tippett got his 542nd career win, tying Billy Reay for 19th on the NHL’s all-time list. … Calgary remained one point behind Los Angeles for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Flames and Kings play four times over the final 19 games.
Coyotes play at Edmonton on Tuesday night in the middle game of a three-game trip.
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