Smith, Coyotes blank Avalanche

Mike Smith returned from a six-game absence and posted 24 saves to notch his fifth shutout of the season, as the Phoenix Coyotes blanked the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, on Saturday at Arena.

Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan each registered a goal and an assist, while Boyd Gordon and Mikkel Boedker also lit the lamp for the Coyotes, who have won a season-high three straight games to move within two points of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Semyon Varlamov allowed all four goals on 28 shots for the Avalanche, who have lost 14 straight on the road and sit last in the NHL with 29 points.

"It's been a tough stretch here," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "We're trying to do what we can as coaches to make sure the guys are staying positive and sticking together."

Boedker opened the scoring just under two minutes in, as he charged down the right wing and ripped a quick shot from the top of the right circle that beat Varlamov to the far side to make it 1-0 at the 1:46 mark.

Phoenix erupted for three goals in the second to seize control, as Hanzal's power-play marker at the 3:06 mark doubled the Coyotes' advantage.

Just under four minutes later, Gordon threw a shot on net from a sharp angle near the Colorado goal line that banked off Varlamov's back and went in for a 3-0 lead at the 7:04 mark.

Doan then capped the three-goal frame at the 14:37 mark when he pounded home a one-timer from in front off a nice feed from Radim Vrbata to make it 4-0.

Smith, who hadn't played since March 21 due to a head injury, stopped 19 shots over the final two periods to secure his 24th career shutout.

"I didn't want to go in tonight and be tentative," Smith said. "I wanted to go out there and do what I do."

Game Notes

Phoenix's three-game winning streak is the club's longest since it ended the 2011-12 regular season with five consecutive victories ... Colorado is 0-11-3 during its 14-game road skid and hasn't won away from Denver since beating Minnesota on Feb. 14 ... The Avalanche are 2-15-3 on the road this season ... Phoenix has won four straight against Colorado, including a 3-2 overtime win in Colorado on Feb. 11 ... Phoenix improved to 13-7-1 at home this season.