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Amid tough season in Arizona, Smith sets ‘pretty cool’ franchise record

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Mike Smith knew toward the end of Monday night’s game that an important milestone was within reach. As it turned out, one goal was all Smith needed from his teammates to accomplish it.

Smith set a franchise record with his 22nd shutout, making 22 saves to back Brendan Perlini‘s goal and help the Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche 1-0 on Monday night.

Perlini scored early in the second period and Smith made it stand, even through a flurry of activity in front of his own net in the final minute.

“To get that many shutouts with one team is a pretty cool achievement,” Smith said. “I’ve played with a lot of different teammates through my time in Arizona, a lot of special people that will be friends for a long time that deserve a lot of credit with this, too. You can’t get shutouts alone.”

Calvin Pickard stopped 34 shots for Colorado, but the Avalanche were blanked for the 12th time this season.

“Both goalies were good, but we missed the net on too many of our good chances,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.

Smith got his third shutout this season and the 33rd of his career, including five with Dallas and six with Tampa Bay. He’s been with the Coyotes since 2011 and was named an All-Star this season.

“He’s been kind of the backbone here for a long time now, so it’s fitting that he gets those accomplishments,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.

The Coyotes started without captain Shane Doan, who appeared to be shaken up in a collision during warmups with teammate Jakob Chychrun. Radim Vrbata took Doan’s place on the third line until late in the first period, when Doan returned.

Doan said he got the wind knocked out of him and was checked for a concussion. The 40-year-old has played in all 68 of Arizona’s games this season. He is the Coyotes’ franchise leader in games played, goals, assists and points.

“I had no idea who it was that hit me,” Doan said. “I haven’t been hit that hard in a long, long time.”

In the first period, the teams combined for only nine shots on goal, and none in the final 9:14. Avalanche center J.T. Compher hit the post twice.

It took less than four minutes in the second for the Coyotes to get on the board. Peter Holland sent a pinpoint pass to Perlini on a rush, and Perlini’s wrist shot beat Pickard glove side.

The 20-year-old Perlini has 13 goals in 43 games this season and has scored in three straight.

“Just shooting the puck, trying to get as many pucks on net as possible,” Perlini said. “Hopefully some go in.”

Pickard kept the Avalanche in the game with several athletic saves. He stopped back-to-back point-blank shots from Jamie McGinn and Tobias Rieder just over halfway through the second period, and made the save of the night on Perlini at 14:27 of the period when he reached out to stop a shot on a 2-on-1 rush.

Pickard also deflected Max Domi‘s breakaway shot a few minutes into the third period, and thwarted another Domi breakaway try at 14:37 of the period.

Smith moved into third place on the Coyotes’ wins list with 127. His shutout total passed former Coyotes goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Nikolai Khabibulin.

NOTES: F Rene Bourque and D Patrick Wiercioch were scratched for Colorado. Bourque was a healthy scratch and had played in the last eight games. … The Coyotes killed a four-minute power play in the first period after D Anthony DeAngelo was called for holding and slashing at the 4:33 mark.

UP NEXT

Avalanche: Return home to face Detroit on Wednesday, then on the road for the next two games.

Coyotes: At the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, the second-to-last back-to-back set of games of the season.

Young Mitch Marner meme isn’t lost on Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

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A couple of days ago, Mitch Marner was spotted at Pearson Airport in Toronto with a backwards baseball cap after flying back from a very impressive and productive run at the World Hockey Championship.

Hockey Twitter exploded with well-meaning laughter as the dazzlingly talented 20-year-old looked even younger than 20.

Even a few days later, it really is a sight to behold, whether you need a respite from politics or biting your nails about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final:

As much as many of us deride this age of social media, it’s been a goldmine for self deprecating comedy from hockey players; as it turns out, Roberto Luongo doesn’t have that market completely cornered, either.

Not long ago, Auston Matthews jumped in on the Marner meme, and it was glorious:

To his credit, Marner himself joined in:

Is anyone else eager to see what these young stars come up with both on and off the ice during the next, oh, couple decades?

Johansen wishes he was there to shake Kesler’s hand after Predators won

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Ryan Johansen isn’t backing down about his criticisms of the way Ryan Kesler plays. Not after the Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks. Not as he recovers from emergency surgery.

That was the top bulletin-board material from a great interview Johansen participated in with TSN 1040 Vancouver on Wednesday, as the refreshingly candid forward discussed a wide array of topics.

For instance, Johansen:

  • Praised the hockey acumen of Nashville fans, backing up P.K. Subban‘s praise of the market.
  • Went into detail about his harrowing injury. Johansen explained that, at first, the seemingly innocent hit by Josh Manson would just be one of those “that’s going to leave a bad bruise” moments. Toward the end of the game, he was a shift or two from telling Peter Laviolette that he’d be a liability to his team. After the contest, he couldn’t even walk out of the shower, and that’s when medical staff determined that a painful injury required emergency surgery.
  • The bittersweet feelings of seeing his team advance to a Stanley Cup Final without him.
  • He spoke about how confident he felt during a postseason run that’s drawn rave reviews.

Still, the juicy stuff was about Kesler. That comes at around the 10:50 mark of an interview worth listening to in its entirety.

Nice. That’s basically the opposite of Detroit Red Wings players regretting shaking Claude Lemieux’s hand and maybe the other extreme of Martin Brodeur snubbing Sean Avery, right?

(It feels necessary to discuss Milan Lucic getting weird during the handshake lines, too. Ah, memories.)

Johansen admits that he was a Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, and while Kesler wasn’t one of his favorite players, he certainly cheered his endeavors. That … won’t happen again anytime soon, as you can note.

Johansen expects a full recovery from that surgery, so yes, we can all pencil in the rematch between those two Ryans in 2017-18.

Hot take: there won’t be handshakes.

Blues add Darryl Sydor as assistant coach

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The St. Louis Blues continued to assemble the coaching staff for Mike Yeo on Wednesday when they announced the hiring of former NHL defenseman Darryl Sydor.

Sydor previously served as an assistant on Yeo’s staff for several years when he was the head coach of the Minnesota Wild. Before joining the Blues, Sydor was an assistant coach for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this past season.

“I am excited to have Darryl back on my staff,” Yeo said in a statement released by the team. “He was an outstanding teacher during our time in Minnesota and will add a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team.”

Before joining the coaching ranks Sydor was a defenseman in the NHL for 18 seasons, playing 1,291 games for the Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues. The Blues were his final stop in the NHL, playing 47 games for the team during the 2009-10 season. He was a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams, winning it with the Stars in 1998-99 and then with the Lightning in 2003-04.

The Blues hired Yeo to be their coach-in-waiting to work alongside Ken Hitchcock before the start of the 2016-17 season, but when Hitchcock was fired in the middle of the season Yeo was promoted a few months earlier than expected.

The Blues eliminated the Wild in the first-round of the playoffs this season but were defeated by the Nashville Predators in the second round.

For fourth time in five years Sergei Mozyakin is the KHL’s MVP

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The KHL handed out its awards for the 2016-17 season on Wednesday and it was Magnitogorsk Metallurg forward Sergei Mozyakin taking home the Golden Stick Trophy as the league MVP.

Given the season he had, and the career he has had in the KHL, this should not really be much of a surprise.

Mozyakin turned in one of the greatest performances in the history of the league this season by scoring 48 goals and recording 85 total points (both league records) in only 60 games.

Since the KHL formed in 2008-09 only three different players have won the Golden Stick award. Danis Zaripov won it during the inaugural season, while Alexander Radulov won it four times (three years in a row between 2009-10 and 2011-12, then again in 2014-15).

Mozyakin won it in 2012-13 and 2014-15, then in each of the past two seasons.

The 36-year-old forward was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the ninth-round (No. 262 overall) of the 2002 draft by never played a game in the NHL. He has spent his entire professional career playing in Russia where he has consistently been one of the best, most productive players in the league.

Among the KHL’s other award winners, Vasily Koshechkin was named the league’s top goalie, Oleg Znarok was the coach of the year, while Vladimir Tkachyov is the rookie of the year.