Almost six months ago, when Mike Smith made his debut in goal for the Coyotes, he was roughed up by the San Jose Sharks for six goals in 38 minutes in a 6-3 loss on opening night.

It was a loss that made an impact.

Since then, Smith shut out the Sharks three times, including 2-0 on Thursday night in another crucial game for a team still battling for a playoff spot. The Coyotes moved up to the seventh spot in the Western Conference with the win.

Why the turnaround against a highly skilled team?

"I have no idea," said Smith, who has six shutouts on the season. "Obviously, it says a lot about the team in front of me - guys blocking shots and boxing out and doing everything it takes to win hockey games. We did that again, and we got a huge two points."

Smith, who had 38 saves, said having three days off was not a negative.

"It didn't really think about it like that, more just knew the importance of this game; I think everyone did obviously," he said. "It's huge, probably one of the biggest games ... and we responded with a huge win."