SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Radim Vrbata is peaking at the right time.
“When the puck is finding the back of the net for him, it just seems like he’s got that extra step,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
“Sometimes we struggle to score goals, we need our goal scorers to be putting the puck in the net,” Smith said. “Vrby has played well as of late.”
Phoenix won its second consecutive road game for the first time since Nov. 27 and Dec. 3. The Coyotes are one point behind Dallas for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Florida has lost 10 of 13. The Panthers have only six goals in the last four games.
“You score that one and you start feeling good about yourself,” Vrbata said. “You get a couple of lucky bounces.”
The Panthers closed to 3-1 on Pirri’s power-play goal at 8:54 of the third. Pirri’s shot from high in the right circle touched several Coyotes players’ sticks and went over Smith’s glove high in the net.
It was Pirri’s first goal with Florida since he was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 2.
Smith had been stellar before Pirri’s goal.
“Where we are in the standings and the desperation we should be playing with, your goaltender has to take a big part of that,” Tippett said. “But it’s great to see everybody else chip in.”