GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes makes his way to the ice for warm-ups prior to facing the Nashville Predators in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lower-body injury ends Mike Smith’s night


Mike Smith allowed 10 goals overall in the Phoenix Coyotes’ first two games of the season, but he didn’t leave Wednesday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of a poor performance.

The big goalie won’t return to the game after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period, AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan reports. Backup Jason LaBarbera, 36, took over for the Coyotes’ workhorse in this game.

It’s unclear how serious Smith’s injury is just yet.

A troubling history

Many came into this season wondering if the 30-year-old netminder could show the consistency he did in a breakthrough 2011-12 campaign, but it’s easy to forget that injuries have arguably been his biggest hurdle.

His time with the Tampa Bay Lightning was marred by health problems. Smith managed seasons of 42, 41 and 22 games played with the Bolts before Phoenix’s career-high 67 contests last season.

Big stakes

There’s a lot on the line for the goalie and his team. Smith is in a contract year, so another strong season could strengthen the argument that he didn’t just have a lucky campaign. Meanwhile, as much magic as Dave Tippett has managed, it’s hard to imagine the Coyotes approaching last year’s surprising run with LaBarbera as the No.1 guy.

Phoenix is already 0-2-0 with this game against Columbus still in action, yet the team’s rocky start could get much uglier if this situation goes wrong.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer