There's no other word for it. It's absurd. It's 100% totally absurd.
Mike Smith had not allowed a goal in almost a solid week, having blanked the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim ducks to finish March.
The Blue Jackets came in having played spoiler for their last five games, including their victories against the Red Wings, Panthers, and Blues. Rolling behind Allen York, it was the team's one chance to sweep a season series against an opponent this season, but they ran into a juggernaut.
The Jackets put the hammer down early and often, including some exceptional work by R.J. Umberger and Ryan Johansen, but Smith was dialed in and locked from minute one to minute sixty.
All he needed was a break, and after dueling a scoreless first period with Allen York, Smith received it early in the second period thanks to a defensive miscue by Darryl Boyce.
Leaving his man uncovered, Boyce left Boyd Gordon alone as he watched the puck and not the play. One quick feed from Lauri Korpikoski in front of the net later, the Coyotes had the only margin of victory they would need....but just to karmically rub it in, former Jacket Gilbert Brule would find a loose puck in front of the net two minutes later and backhand it home to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.
The team would rack up franchise single game record 54 shots as they attempted to solve Smith, but it just wasn't happening. In what might be the last regular season game in Phoenix should the team's future remain unsettled into the offseason, Mike Smith gave the fans, the team, and the NHL in general one hell of a memory.
Final Score - Coyotes 2 - Jackets 0
- Jack Johnson - Pairing with James Wisniewski in his return to the ice, JMFJ not only had a team high 31 minutes of ice time, he also lead the team with 8 shots on net.
- Ryan Johansen - An impressive four shots on goal, but the real plays of note were his passes, including a couple of insane feeds to Ryan Russell that should have been textbook goals.
- R. J. Umberger - Six shots on goal (the most among forwards) and some intense hustle all night.
- Allen York - Good rebound from the Brule goal, which I'm sure had to feel like a mental anvil.
- Mike Smith - Credit where credit is due, because daaaaaaamn.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Darryl Boyce - Seriously, dude. What were you doing there?
- Power Play - Give credit to Smith and the Phoenix PK, but the Jackets still went 0 for 7. Just one PP goal might have changed the entire momentum of this game.
- Line Combos - Seriously, I like Brass and Letestu as much as anyone else, but Ryan Johansen deserves to spend the last two games of this season on the top six. His game has continued to mature and his vision of the ice is becoming truly exceptional.
On to Colorado for Thursday's penultimate match, and then home to Columbus for the finale Saturday. What a long strange trip it's been...