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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.

PHT Morning Skate: Zdeno Chara shot catches emergency goalie in a sensitive spot

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–Sean McIndoe looks at five players who became the unlikeliest first 50-goal scorers in their franchise’s history. McIndoe chose Rick MacLeish (Flyers), Rick Vaive (Maple Leafs), Vic Hadfield (Rangers), Guy Chouinard (Flames) and Mickey Redmond (Red Wings). (The Hockey News)

–A lot of people think hockey players are the toughest athletes, but Islanders forward Anders Lee is here to tell you that they aren’t tough at all. In his story for The Players’ Tribune, Lee writes about a tough, young friend, who is battling cancer. “In the seven years since he has been diagnosed, he has gone through multiple surgeries. He’s had countless radiation treatments. He’s gone through chemotherapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplants. And he does it all with a smile on his face. So when I hear people refer to me as tough because I play hockey, I think of Fenov and kids like him.” (The Players’ Tribune)

–The Boston Bruins needed an emergency goalie for their practice yesterday, and they settled on Massachusetts state trooper Kevin Segee. Surely, it was the experience of a lifetime for him, but it didn’t come without pain. Segee was clearly shaken up after getting a Zdeno Chara in the…well, you know. (CSN New England)

–Blackhawks forwards Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Tanner Kero each had multi-point games in Wednesday’s 5-1 thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can watch the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–What was the world like the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs? Thanks to Sports Illustrated, we don’t have to wonder. In 1990, J.K. Rowling had just started writing the Harry Potter series, Donald Trump walked out of an interview with CNN because they were asking tough questions about his casino, the first known webpage was written and much, much more. (Sports Illustrated)

–Edmonton Oilers players and their significant others came together to make 400-500 bowls of homemade soup for charity. It’s pretty cool to see most of the team be involved in such a nice event, even though the onion chopping station gave some of the guys a hard time. (Edmonton Oilers on Twitter)

–Sportsnet has assembled the top hits of the week for your viewing pleasure. Hits from that Toronto, Columbus game made the video a couple of times:

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.