GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Smith never saw his first NHL goal go in. He and his Phoenix Coyotes teammates had to wait for a bit after the final buzzer sounded to see if the goal counted.
It did — an empty-netter from his own crease as the game clock expired that floated down the ice and into the net at the horn — capping the Coyotes' 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Smith accepted congratulations from the Coyotes, unaware he had become the 11th goaltender in NHL history to score.
Two goalies have scored more than once, Martin Brodeur (three) and Ron Hextall (two) according to NHL.com. The last goalie to score in the regular season or playoffs was Brodeur for the New Jersey Devils on March 21 at Carolina.
"I don't know what to say, really," Smith said. "Obviously I'm thrilled with the way we played. It's just a bonus to be able to score a goal in this league as a goaltender. We did a lot of really good things tonight against a good hockey team."
Smith had given the Coyotes and their fans a scare when he dropped face-down onto the ice 10:08 into the second period after reaching to block a shot. Smith was down for a couple of minutes, being attended to by a trainer, but remained in the game.
Detroit scored immediately after Smith went down, but the goal was waved off.
Smith said he felt a sharp pain that shot up into his neck. As he lay on the ice, the pain subsided and he was able to continue.
"It's nothing concerning," he said.
Smith said he tries a long shot from his own goal toward the other net in practice every so often and had scored for Lexington in the ECHL during the 2002-03 season.
"A lot of things have to go right for it to happen," he said. "The clock has to slow down at the right time of the game to let it trickle in over the line."
It was a bonus goal, as Mike Ribeiro scored twice in the third period to help the Coyotes storm back from a 2-0 deficit in the opening frame. Martin Hanzal's goal at 7:08 of the third, in his 400th NHL game, put Phoenix ahead 3-2. That came 2:01 after Ribeiro had tied it.
"The most important thing was the team and the way we came back," Ribeiro said.
"He finds a way to have an impact on the game," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a quirky player, but he can do things for you."
Ribeiro's third of the season with 6:46 remaining gave Phoenix a 4-2 lead before Smith sealed the win in dramatic fashion.
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