COYOTES 1, KINGS 0:
Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:30 PM
Mike Smith recorded his second straight shutout by turning aside all 28 shots he faced and Radim Vrbata matched a career high with his 27th goal of the season as the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Los Angeles Kings in a physical battle at the Staples Center.
With the victory, the Coyotes improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games and pulled even with the Kings for seventh place in the Western Conference. The pair is just four points behind the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks.
The NHL’s First Star of the Week, Smith responded from his 38-save effort in a shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks by handcuffing the Kings.
Smith secured his fourth blanking of the season and 15th career by stopping 11 shots in the first period, eight in the second and nine in the third. Smith also improved to 7-2-1 in his career versus Los Angeles.
Vrbata finally broke through after Kings defenseman Jack Johnson was serving a delay of game penalty.
With 4:01 left in the second period, Vrbata accepted a cross-ice feed from Ray Whitney and wired a shot from the right faceoff circle past All-Star Jonathan Quick. The tally was Vrbata’s fifth in nine contests.
Quick finished with 20 saves for the Kings, who fell to 2-4-1 in their last seven games.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The teams waged a physical battle in the first period, with three fights and two roughing penalties to highlight a scoreless session. … Whitney, who saw his eight-game point streak come to an end in the team’s last contest, had an assist on Vrbata’s goal.
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