Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/3/13
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Few things can bolster a goaltender's confidence like a shutout. Mike Smith stopped 17 shots for his 20th career shutout, and the Phoenix Coyotes blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0 Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. "I thought he looked like (himself) out there," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It's the first game that he looked confident out there." Smith has struggled this season both in performance and health. He allowed 10 goals in the Coyotes' first two games, then went down with a lower-body injury in Phoenix's third contest. Smith missed four games before returning Friday night in the Coyotes' 4-3 shootout loss at Dallas. "Having a couple shaky starts and then getting injured wasn't the start I was looking for," Smith said. "Obviously, it wasn't a really busy night, but it was good to gain some confidence." Nick Johnson and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Coyotes, who have points in their past four games (2-0-2) after starting the season with one win in five games. The game marked the return of Coyotes left wing Raffi Torres, who served a 21-game suspension following his flying hit to the head of Chicago's Marian Hossa in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last April. "It's nice to feel welcomed and get back at it," Torres said. Smith enjoyed considerable assistance from his defense, which held the Stars to just three shots on goal in the second period and blocked 15 shots. Asked how he passed the time, Smith smiled and said, "I twiddled my thumbs." Dallas also was hampered by penalties, spending nearly half of the first period short-handed and surrendering seven power-play opportunities overall. "We're paying for it now," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said, whose team allowed just one-power play goal. "We've had internal discussions about having too many penalties, and we'll pay for it again when we get to practice." Johnson broke a scoreless tie at 11:57 of the second period after a Dallas turnover in the Phoenix zone. Smith attempted to clear the puck down the ice, but the Stars' Jamie Oleksiak stopped the puck along the halfboards. Korpikoski came in, poked the puck loose, skated untouched down the left side and found Johnson between the circles for the one-timer and his third goal of the season. "We were a little energized, a little (ticked) off," Johnson said. "When you lose in a shootout, it leaves a bad taste." Boedker made it 2-0 on a power-play with 17:13 to play in the game, firing home a long rebound from just outside the crease off a blast from the right point by Derek Morris. Dallas goaltender Richard Bachman made 32 saves. The Stars have four goals in their past six road games dating back to last season, and they've been shut out three times in that span. NOTES: Torres' suspension, originally set at 25 games before being reduced by four games after the Coyotes' elimination from the playoffs, matched the third-longest in NHL history, behind only Billy Coutu's lifetime ban in 1927 and Chris Simon's 30-game suspension in 2007. ... Phoenix had five power plays in the game's 27 minutes. ... Smith entered the game 5-1-5 against the team with which he started his career. It was his second career shutout against the Stars. ... Smith's first shutout also was in Phoenix, a 4-0 win for Dallas in his first career start. ... Bachman was making his second start of the season. ... Phoenix center Andy Miele made his season debut, and he finished a plus-1. ... The Coyotes have two more sets of consecutive games against the same team this season. Phoenix plays three games in five nights against Anaheim in early March and consecutive games at Los Angeles in March. ... Dallas plays two straight at home against Minnesota on March 25 and 29, then three in five days against the Ducks to start April.
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