GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Take it from Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith: Life is much easier in the NHL with a little help from your friends.
Smith made 26 saves and the Coyotes clamped down with a team defensive effort to help Smith get his second shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
``The guys in front of me were great,' said Smith. ``They cleared the puck all night and let me see the puck. They had my back and that's what it takes to win hockey games.'
The win was the first for Phoenix against Dallas this season after dropping two games in overtime to the Stars.
Smith, who blanked the Sharks in San Jose on Nov. 12, improved to 11-4-3 this season with his 13th career shutout.
After a 5-0 loss to Vancouver on home ice the night before, Smith rebounded with a solid effort and needed to stop only 14 shots through the first two periods.
``What I like about Mike is his consistency and how he handles himself,' said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. ``That's why he's a big part of what we're doing now.'
Mikkel Boedker scored in the first, Ray Whitney in the second and Taylor Pyatt in the final period for the Coyotes, who took 14 of their 22 shots in the opening session.
Phoenix took an early lead when Boedker poked in a loose puck in the crease for his fourth goal of the season with less than 5 minutes remaining in the opening period.
The goal came against reserve goalie Andrew Raycroft, who replaced starter Kari Lehtonen about 5:30 into the game. Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris's slap shot caught Lehtonen on the right knee just above the goalie pad. The play was called for an offside but Morris' shot came just before the whistle sounded.
After being helped off the ice, Lehtonen immediately went to the locker room and did not return. Coming into the game, he had a 1.98 goal against average in seven road games.
``We didn't have it,' said Raycroft. ``Phoenix is tough when they play hard down low and that's what happened. They took it to us but we'll have to be ready (for Monday's game at Colorado).'
The Stars also lost both defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Vernon Fiddler to upper-body injuries. Neither returned.
Early in the middle period, Whitney's one-timer off a Radim Vrbata pass just over 6 minutes into the session pushed the Phoenix lead to 2-0.
Midway through the final period, Pyatt converted a rebound off Daymond Langkow's shot for his third goal of the season.
``After the way we played against Vancouver, we needed to come back,' Langkow said. ``Once you're in a slide it can snowball, so we needed to stop it and we rebounded with a strong game.'
Notes: For the third straight game, the Stars were without captain Brenden Morrow (upper-body injury), who was placed on injured reserve. . Langkow returned to the Phoenix lineup after missing eight games due to a death in his family. He picked up two assists for his first multi-point game of the season. . D Keith Yandle's two assists were his sixth multi-point game of the season. . Against the Coyotes, Dallas began a stretch where its plays seven of its next nine on the road.
The Associated Press News Service
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