Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 1/23/13
Calgary-flames
The Phoenix Coyotes rode goaltender Mike Smith to the first division title in franchise history last season, but his struggles are a major reason why the Pacific Division champions are winless in 2012-13. A strong performance from their goalie has the Columbus Blue Jackets off to a surprisingly good start. Phoenix looks to avoid its worst start since relocating to the desert Wednesday night when it hosts the Blue Jackets, who are trying to go their first three games without a regulation loss for the first time in six seasons. Smith has struggled to follow up his career season of 2011-12, when he posted personal bests of 38 wins and a 2.21 goals-against average. He allowed 10 goals on 57 shots in the Coyotes' first two games. The most goals he gave up in back-to-back starts in 2011-12 was eight, but he allowed all the goals in a 6-4 loss to Chicago on Sunday. "We had unacceptable goaltending in both games and there's no excuse for it," Smith told the Coyotes' official website. "I'm letting down the whole team and if you score seven goals in two games you should win both of them. We need to clean up our game in some areas but it starts with me and I haven't been good enough." Neither have the Coyotes (0-2-0), who haven't lost their first three games since 1985-86 when the franchise was based in Winnipeg. The Blue Jackets (1-0-1) finished with a league-worst 65 points last season and rarely get off to good starts, but they have a chance to open with points in three straight for the first time since 2006-07. Sergei Bobrovsky, acquired from Philadelphia, deserves as much credit as anyone for the Blue Jackets being in that position. Starting both games ahead of Steve Mason, he's turned aside 71 of 76 shots as well as eight of 10 in the two shootouts. He made 39 saves in a 4-3 loss to Detroit on Monday. "Our goalie was great again," coach Todd Richards said. The Blue Jackets know they need to cut down on penalties, but they've killed off seven of eight short-handed situations. That's a small sample size, but still a nice improvement from last season with they were last in the NHL on the penalty kill at 76.6 percent. Columbus, though, was nearly flawless in those situations against Phoenix last season, thwarting 10 of 11 chances in winning three of four in the series. The three victories matched the Blue Jackets' highest total against any team in 2011-12. The Coyotes avoided a season sweep in the last meeting, winning 2-0 at home April 3 behind Smith's career-high 54 saves. Phoenix has taken six of the last eight at home versus Columbus.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Top 10 takeaways from Super Bowl 50

Was firing Jeff Hornacek the wrong move for the Suns?

Panthers picked wrong day to play worst game of the season

Was Peyton Manning paid for Budweiser mentions?

Cam Newton walks out of postgame press conference

Eli did not look thrilled after Peyton locked up Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rick Reilly sends awkward tweet during Super Bowl 50

Peyton Manning gives Papa John a kiss after game

Panthers' Josh Norman crying after losing Super Bowl

Peyton Manning ‘going to drink a lot of Budweiser’ after win

Where Peyton Manning ranks among Super Bowl era QBs

Peyton Manning declines to comment on possible retirement

Winners and losers from Super Bowl 50

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Aqib Talib wipes out on NFL Network

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Five biggest boneheaded plays of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cam Newton gives questionable effort to recover fumble

Lions say Calvin Johnson's future still not determined

How Louisville basketball bungled their self-imposed ban

Ted Ginn Jr. whiffs on football twice on one play, results in Panthers turnover

Kony Ealy makes one-handed interception of Peyton Manning

Mike Carey gets another call wrong on incomplete pass in SB

Steph Curry beats Panthers' "Keep Pounding" drum

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker