Smith, Flames blank Coyotes
CALGARY, Alberta -- Mike Smith said he owes a lot to the Arizona Coyotes organization, but that didn’t stop him from shutting out his old team on Thursday.
Smith turned aside all 28 shots he faced to backstop the Calgary Flames, who acquired him in a trade on June 17, to a 3-0 win over the Coyotes at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
”(The Coyotes) took a chance on me when I was kind of bumping around there and really hadn’t found my way yet,“ said Smith, who played for the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning before landing a job as the Coyotes’ No. 1 netminder in the 2011-12 season. ”I owe a lot to them, but obviously it feels good to beat them.
“The shutout’s a bonus, but the way we beat them was a lot more rewarding for me,” added Smith, who recorded his second shutout of the season and 35th of his NHL career. “I think the last time I shut out the Coyotes was my first game in the NHL. It’s been a long time since I did that.”
Mark Jankowski had two goals for the Flames (14-10-1), while Mikael Backlund also scored.
”From start to finish, we played a solid game and played smart -- great goaltending again,“ said Backlund. ”Smitty was really good for us ... he’s been all year. We were happy for him to get the shutout.
“I‘m sure it means a lot for him. He was pretty pumped about it so we were happy we helped him out with that.”
Sam Bennett had two assists for the Flames, who bounced back from a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs two nights earlier.
Goalie Scott Wedgewood, who made his fourth straight start for the Coyotes (6-18-4), also played well as he stopped 41 shots.
“He was solid today,” said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who wasn’t as pleased with many of his other players. “We were out of gas -- you could tell. Some guys were going tonight. Some guys ran out of gas. We looked like a tired hockey team. It’s a lesson learned. Some guys can’t give. If you’re tired, you have to play a little bit smarter.”
Wedgewood had to be sharp 20 seconds into the game as he made a blocker save to stop a shot off the stick of Flames center Matt Stajan.
Later in the opening period, Smith made back-to-back saves to stop quality scoring chances by Max Domi and Christian Dvorak.
“He’s an emotional guy, that’s for sure,” said Domi in regards to how fired up Smith was to face his former teammates. “He’s a good goalie. He played well tonight. I think he deserved that win and I‘m looking forward to the next time we play against them.”
Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic then rang a shot off the post before taking another point shot that Sean Monahan tipped on net that Wedgewood stopped with his right pad.
Jankowski opened the scoring at 2:48 of the second period because of a great second effort. After his first shot was turned aside, Jankowski quickly put his stick between his legs and lifted the rebound up and over Wedgewood’s left pad.
“That was just instinct,” Jankowski said. “My momentum was taking me toward the corner after I tipped the first one on net. My only play, I guess, was to kind of bring it through my legs back to the other side. It’s something you practice in warm-up and practice in case you have to use it, but I didn’t feel like I had to go through the legs. Instincts took over there.”
The Flames continued to press hard to score an insurance goal and were rewarded when Matthew Tkachuk made a great feed out front to Backlund, who one-timed the puck past Wedgewood at 10:19 of the third.
Jankowski scored his second of the game and fifth of the season at 12:11 of the third when he drove hard to the net before making a quick move and tucking a backhand shot past Wedgewood.
NOTES: In six seasons with the Coyotes before being acquired by the Flames, G Mike Smith compiled a 128-132-41 record to go with a 2.69 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. ... Flames RW Jaromir Jagr returned to action Thursday after missing Calgary’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs two nights earlier. ... The Flames put RW Kris Versteeg on injury reserve Wednesday and recalled RW Garnet Hathaway from the AHL’s Stockton Heat. ... Calgary’s scratches were C Curtis Lazar, C Freddie Hamilton and D Matt Bartkowski. ... The Coyotes recalled D Andrew Campbell from the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday. ... The Coyotes scratched Campbell, LW Anthony Duclair and D Niklas Hjalmarsson, who suffered an upper-body injury during Arizona’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.