GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes goalie Mike Smith accomplished one of the rarest feats in professional sports when he scored into an empty net with 0.1 seconds left in Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena, becoming just the 11th goaltender in NHL history to score a goal.
With about 5 seconds on the clock, Smith gloved a shot from just inside the blue line by Detroit’s Mikael Samuelsson. He quickly dropped it and launched it down the ice, and with Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard on the bench for an extra attacker, it slid across the goal line just before the final horn.
“Everything has to work right and the clock has to slow down at the right time in the game to let it trickle over the line,” Smith said. “It was just a bonus to a great win.”
It was the first career goal for Smith, known as one of the better puck-handling netminders in the league, and just the seventh to be shot into the net by a goaltender. The other goals were all own goals that were credited to the opposing goalie by virtue of being the last player to touch the puck.
Smith also scored in his first year of pros in the ECHL with Lexington in 2002-03.
“I’ve seen Smitty try it a couple of times,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who was fine with the attempt due to the circumstances with the Coyotes up 4-2. “Two-goal lead is fine. One goal is a little sketchy; two you can live with.”
It was the first score by a goalie since last season, when the Devils’ Martin Brodeur scored on March 23 against the Hurricanes, and the first to be shot in by a netminder since Evgeni Nabokov did it for the Sharks against the Canucks in 2002.
Brodeur has scored three times, making him the all-time leader among goalies. The only other goaltender with more than one is Ron Hextall, who scored twice (in 1987 and ’89) while with the Flyers. Brodeur and Hextall are the only ones to score in the playoffs.