The past three games have probably been the best hockey Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has played this season. He continued his recent hot streak on Friday night by shutting down the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 win, stopping all 30 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season.
In Smith's last three games he's allowed just three goals while getting wins over Pittsburgh and Chicago, two of the best teams in the NHL.
While Smith was busy stopping everything thrown his way, Keith Yandle and Radim Vrbata provided the offense for the Coyotes, with the latter goal sending Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville into a fit of rage.
Elsewhere on Friday the New York Rangers were victorious in Pittsburgh thanks to a 4-3 shootout win, while the New Jersey Devils were winners in overtime when Jon Merril scored his first goal of the season.
All the NHL Scores
Rangers 4, Penguins 3
Devils 2, Oilers 1
Coyotes 2, Blackhawks 0
On Friday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Is Rangers-Penguins the ultimate Olympic preview?
Of all the games that took place on Friday, this one did have some of the most intriguing Olympic matchups and Olympic participants, including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Maatta, Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik. Maatta, the 19-year-old defenseman who will be representing Finland, had perhaps the best performance of the night scoring a goal, adding an assist to tie the game late in the third period, and generally controlling the pace of the game when he was on the ice. His strong performance wasn't enough for the Penguins, however, as they fell in a shootout, 4-3. Lundqvist also came up big early in the game when he stopped Crosby on a breakaway.
2. Can the Oilers continue rolling?
Not on Friday as they fell in New Jersey, 2-1, in overtime. The plus side is the line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, all former No. 1 overall picks, played well when together and scored Edmonton's only goal of the night.
3. What's the Hurricanes' plan for Cam Ward?
Whatever it is, they might want to just tell Cam Ward to take his time coming back. Anton Khudobin, one of the best free agent signings of the offseason, continues to play incredible hockey. Khudobin stopped 34 of 35 shots and improved his save percentage on the season to .930, good enough for the top-five in the NHL.
4. Can Chicago reclaim the top spot in the West?
With a win Chicago could have overtaken the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the Western Conference. It did not happen on Friday as the Blackhawks were shutout by Mike Smith. They remain one point behind Anaheim.
5. Can the Sharks score more than two goals?
Yes! Finally! For the first time in six games the Sharks managed to score three goals in a game, and they needed every single one of them in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The one play or moment from Friday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
It's a pretty big deal when a professional athlete -- one that is by all accounts one of the most fit players at his position -- at the age of 26 is revealed to be recovering from a stroke. That's what happened on Friday when the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that defenseman Kris Letang has been out of the lineup because he suffered a stroke last week. There was a lot of speculation as to what the issue was, but that piece of information stunned the league.
Stat of the Night
If there was any doubt as to which goalie should be the starter for the New Jersey Devils, there shouldn't be any longer. Cory Schneider is the man, and the position needs to be his if the Devils are going to have any chance of making the playoffs.
Cory Schneider has allowed two goals or less in 12 of his last 13 starts.— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) February 8, 2014
Post to Post
- Mikko Koivu is not going to the Olympics and will not be able to represent team Finland.
- Also not going for Finland: Tampa Bay's Valtteri Filppula after suffering a fractured ankle. Fortunately for Finland their goaltenders are probably the best in the world.
- Some silky smooth moves from the Washington Capitals.
- The New York Islanders' Plan B when it comes to Thomas Vanek.