Mike Smith said he didn't feel comfortable during his disappointing performance in Arizona's season opener, and coach Dave Tippett felt it would be best to sit his No. 1 goaltender in the Coyotes' next contest.
After watching his teammates pick up a victory, Smith will be in net Wednesday night looking to bounce back against the winless Edmonton Oilers, who are completing a three-game road trip.
Smith had a disastrous first game last Thursday, allowing four first-period goals and remaining in net for the entirety of a 6-2 loss to Winnipeg. Backup Devan Dubnyk got the start Saturday and made 24 saves before Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in overtime of a 3-2 win over defending champion Los Angeles.
Tippett said he had a conversation with Smith that didn't include any talk of an injury, simply that Smith didn't feel right. He seems to have worked out the kinks and will be back in goal for this contest.
Smith is 8-0-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average in his last 10 starts against the Oilers.
"He looked sharp in practice the last two days," Tippett said Tuesday. "Nothing to do with injuries, he just didn't feel comfortable in the way he felt. He worked to make himself feel good."
Without Smith, the Coyotes had an all-around solid effort against the Kings while holding the shot advantage 40-26 and going 2 for 4 on the power play. Keith Yandle assisted on goals by Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker.
Tippett hopes his club can play with the same intensity against the Oilers, who have dropped their first three games of the season for the first time since losing four straight to open the 1995-96 campaign.
"We played to our identity and we want to continue to play that way," Tippett said. "Edmonton has some high-skill guys that you have to be aware of, but we want to play with a certain way that we think we can be successful with so that doesn't change."
The Oilers have had some goaltending issues of their own, allowing 15 non-shootout goals after falling 6-1 to the Kings on Tuesday. Viktor Fasth got the start and allowed three goals on 11 shots before leaving in the first period with a groin injury.
Ben Scrivens took over and gave up the other three on 15 shots.
''We knew how hard they were going to come out, and we weren't ready,'' forward David Perron said. ''It was really frustrating. We have to be better on the (penalty-kill), the power play and five-on-five. We still have a lot to learn still.''
Edmonton, which played without top forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins due to undisclosed injuries, got its lone goal from Matt Hendricks with 21 seconds remaining.
It's unclear if either Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins will be able to play in this contest.
''Two of our best players, two of our leaders, weren't in the lineup,'' Hendricks said. ''They're the defending champs for a reason. They're a great team. They could probably sense a little bit of a weakness at the start, and they capitalized on a lot of chances.''
Scrivens will have to recover quickly to start this contest after playing nearly 45 minutes Tuesday. He's 1-1-1 with a 2.22 GAA in three starts against the Coyotes.
Arizona had won five straight meetings before Edmonton got two assists from Eberle in a 3-2 shootout victory April 4.