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Mike Smith injured vs Senators, Coyotes crease in question

Mike Smith injured vs Senators, Coyotes crease in question

Since returning from a lengthy core muscle injury last season, Arizona Coyotes starting netminder Mike Smith has been playing well enough to keep the team in their games.

Just two games into the 2016-17 season, though, the Pacific Division club could be without him once again.

During Arizona’s tough 7-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, Smith – who had made 27 stops on 30 recorded shots against through two and a half periods – left the game with what looked like a left leg injury. He didn’t return to the game, leaving backup Louis Domingue to finish off the contest in his place.

Here’s a look at the injury:

Smith, who was once a Vezina Trophy finalist while with the Coyotes, has been looking to post a renaissance season since that one miraculous run with the club – and with an impressive array of rookies debuting for Arizona this year, it seemed to be the perfect season to do so. A serious injury could keep the veteran out long-term, ruining the possibility of that happening.

Looking at Louis

In Smith’s place, the Coyotes saw sophomore returnee goaltender Louis Domingue come into the game late in the third period.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well for the backup as they did when he replaced Smith midway through last season. The 24-year-old netminder, who put up two shutouts and 15 wins while starting for Arizona in the 2015-16 campaign, allowed two goals on his first two shots faced and ultimately finished the game with an underwhelming .727 save percentage.

There’s little reason to believe he’ll continue to put up numbers that poor. The Coyotes were dismal on the back end in Tuesday’s game, allowing an ugly 42 shots against through three periods of play – and coming in cold behind that kind of defense certainly couldn’t have helped Domingue in his first game of the season.

If he does struggle, though, the Coyotes have little else in the way of immediate help in their system.

Justin Peters, formerly with the Washington Capitals, sits in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners for Arizona – but he’s given little indication in recent years that he’d be a reliable option to carry the team in the Valley of the Sun. Last year, he finished an AHL season with the Hershey Bears boasting a .896 save percentage through 37 regular season games – and this year, he’s posted a .884 save percentage in his one start for Tucson.

Behind him, there’s only a pair of young prospects – the still-developing Marek Langhamer and the pro rookie Adin Hill – to consider, neither of whom seem ready for immediate NHL action.

The Coyotes have confirmed that it’s too soon to know what’s wrong with Smith, so the hope is that he’ll be ready to play again sooner rather than later. If he is out long-term, though, this could be a team looking for immediate relief in net – which could make for an interesting trade front in coming days, if not weeks.

About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and Coyotes.NHL.com, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.