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Mike Smith’s jaw-dropping save on Marian Gaborik

Marian Gaborik, Mike Smith

New York Rangers right winger Marian Gaborik, top, of Slovakia, scores a goal around Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, bottom, in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 in Glendale, Ariz. The Rangers won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)


Considering the vast jump in Mike Smith’s performance in Phoenix after flailing away in Tampa Bay - not to mention similar contrasts for Ilya Bryzgalov now that he’s outside the Coyotes cocoon - many probably attribute it all to Dave Tippett’s defensive system. Big picture-wise, that might be partially true (I’ll allow brainy stats bloggers tackle that one), but “Smitty” has his flashes of brilliance. He faced the unenviable task of stopping Marian Gaborik on a penalty shot and only produced one of the best saves of the season:

Sure, the New York Rangers topped the Coyotes in the shootout minutes later to wrap up their fifth consecutive win, but that’s still a beauty.

Here are the full highlights: