One of the bigger stretches of games in Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith's career is looming.

With four more starts, he will set a career high for games played in a season (43). The play of Smith, who signed as a free agent in the off-season after spending three-plus seasons with Tampa Bay, is one of the big reasons the Coyotes remain in a position to challenge for playoff spot.

Smith missed six games this season because of a groin injury, and the five-day All-Star break came at a good time for him.

"He's established himself as our No. 1 goaltender, and any team that's in a stretch drive or pushing to make the playoffs, you're going to rely on that guy," coach Dave Tippett said. "He's no different for us than any other team would be with their No. 1 goalie. We're going to rely on him to be a good player for us.