GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes’ first home game under new ownership began with pageantry and ended with smiles after a win over the Rangers on Oct. 3. But home game No. 3 finally surpassed it for entertainment value with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
Goalie Mike Smith scored into an empty net with that much time remaining to cement a come-from-behind 5-2 win over the dreaded Red Wings on Saturday at Jobing.com Arena, becoming just the 11th goalie in NHL history to score a goal.
“It’s just a bonus to be able to score a goal in this league as a goaltender,” said Smith.
Despite playing the night before in Anaheim, Phoenix scored five unanswered goals after Detroit grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead, four of them in the third period when the Coyotes’ legs should have given out against the rested Wings.
“It’s hard to be impressed sometimes, but I was impressed with the play of our players tonight,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, whose club swept the two-game season series from the Red Wings to improve to 5-2-2 on the year. “That’s one of those games where I’m waiting for us to be short on energy, and we didn’t look like we were short on energy at all.”
Center Antoine Vermette was rewarded for a terrific all-around game when he scored with one minute remaining in the second period to pull Phoenix within 2-1. The goal opened the floodgates, and the Coyotes came at Detroit in waves the rest of the game.
Center Mike Ribeiro netted the first of his two goals on a rebound to tie it, making Tippett look like a prophet for noting Tuesday how Ribeiro has the ability to impact the game at big moments.
“I’m just trying to be closer to the net,” said Ribeiro, who has points in six straight games and netted his first two-goal game since March 6, 2012. “I felt like, since the beginning of the season, I’m almost all turned around. I’m closer to the boards. In order to score goals, you have to be closer to the net.”
Martin Hanzal got the game-winner off a feed from Lauri Korpikoski after Henrik Zetterberg’s dump-in hit a linesman’s skate and went the other way. A Red Wings killer, Hanzal has scored 11 of his 67 career goals against Detroit.
Ribeiro added his second of the night with 6:46 to play, and Smith capped the night with one of the rarest feats in professional sports — one that almost didn’t materialize since Smith suffered an injury in the second period and lay on the ice for several minutes before opting to stay in the game.
“It wasn’t anything concerning,” said Smith, who played well on both ends of this back-to-back set of games. “I had kind of a stinger go up my neck and just locked up for a minute. Fortunately, it released.”
Nobody was happier about that than co-owner George Gosbee, who hosted tailgaters in the parking lot before the game in what will become a weekend tradition for the rest of the season.
“That’s how you do it,” Gosbee screamed as he headed to the postgame locker room to celebrate the win. “That’s how you do it.”