GLENDALE, Ariz. – If the Phoenix Coyotes wanted a fighting chance at a Stanley Cup Playoff berth over the final 10 games of the season, they needed nothing less than a clean sweep of this week's three-game homestand.
Martin Hanzal, Boyd Gordon and Shane Doan all scored during an 11:31 span of the second period and goalie Mike Smith returned to the Phoenix lineup in style with 24 saves and his fifth shutout of the season as the Coyotes defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena.
The line of Doan, Hanzal and Radim Vrbata each had two assists, as did Oliver Ekman Larsson. The Coyotes backed up home wins against Los Angeles on Tuesday and Detroit on Thursday to extend their points streak to a season-high six games (4-0-2). Phoenix jumped over Columbus and Edmonton and into ninth place in the Western Conference with 40 points heading into a crucial three-game road trip to Western Canada, which begins Monday night in Vancouver.
Smith now has 13 of his 24 career shutouts in his 94 games with the Coyotes and his return to form is big news for Phoenix. He had been inconsistent all season and 0-3-1 with a no-decision in five starts before missing the last six games after being run over by Vancouver's Alexander Edler on March 23.
Just 1:46 into the game, Mikkel Boedker raced down the left side and let go a long wrist shot that beat Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov (24 saves) over his pad to the far post. It was Boedker's seventh goal and 24th point of the season.
Smith saw only five shots in the first but became a bigger factor with big plays offensively and defensively in the second – when the Coyotes were dominant and scored three times for the second straight game.
On an early Phoenix power play, Smith dashed to the face-off circle to stop a clearing attempt and caught Colorado on a change. His long pass was right on the tape of Vrbata, who sent Hanzal and Doan in all alone. Doan returned a pass for Hanzal for the easy tap-in at 3:06.
Smith then made a more traditional goalie play diving to smother an Aaron Palushaj rebound shot. Colorado forward Cody McLeod tried to jam at puck, but Smith held on before hed grabbed McLeod's stick out of his hands and tried to break it before tossing it away in disgust. The penalty was assessed.
Just 2:58 after Hanzal's 11th goal, a Colorado breakout attempt caromed off the skate of Brad Malone and gave the Coyotes another golden opportunity. David Moss pushed the puck to Gordon, who carried the puck to the goal line before banking a shot off Varlamov's stick and in at 7:04. Gordon didn't score a goal in the first 32 games of the season but now had three in the last six.
Doan made it 4-0 at 14:37, completing and tic-tack-toe play with Ekman-Larsson and Vrbata, with both Varlamov and Erik Johnson over committing and leaving the crease wide open. Doan's goal was his team-leading 13th of the season.
The game was Colorado's second in as many nights. They lost in heart-breaking fashion on Friday at home against Detroit, falling 3-2 after the Red Wings scored with 15 seconds left in overtime.
The Avalanche will return home for a game on Monday night against the Calgary Flames before going out on a two-day California trip with games against the Ducks and the Kings.
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