One night later, he walked the walk -- including in a fashion no one would have expected.
Smith turned in a vintage performance against the Detroit Red Wings, making 31 saves in a 5-2 win Saturday. That was no surprise to anyone who watched the native of Kingston, Ontario win 38 games two seasons ago and guide the Coyotes to the Western Conference Final.
What really brought the fans at Jobing.com Arena out of their seats was when Smith capped the night by firing the puck into an empty net with one-tenth of a second remaining for his first career goal and the 14th ever by an NHL goaltender in the regular season or Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't know what to say really," Smith said in The Arizona Republic. "Obviously I'm thrilled with the way we played. It's just a bonus to be able to score a goal in this League obviously as a goaltender."
Smith, who called out his team Friday for playing scared in the third period of a 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim, gloved a Mikael Samuelsson shot as the final seconds ticked down, springing to his feet and flinging the puck the length of the ice. The puck crossed the line, dead center of the net, with :00.1 left on the clock.
"The guys were in my face, so I didn't actually see it until I saw a replay," Smith said. "I do shoot the puck quite often in practice, but an awful lot of things have to go right for that to happen. I was able to score in the ECHL (for Lexington) my first year as a pro (2002-03) and it was the same thing. Everything has to work right and the clock has to slow down at the right time to let it trickle over the line. It was just a bonus to a great win."
Smith might have been even better stopping the puck a night earlier, making 37 saves against the Ducks, but Saturday's game had a much more satisfying finish.
"I might have overreacted a little bit with (Friday) night's comments, but that's the way I felt and like I said, I might have been a little harsh but I thought we responded," Smith said in The Republic. "Not just from what I said, but we just played the way we need to play."
However, he's only the sixth goalie to score with an intended shot at the other team's goal. Several of the goals credited to goaltenders, including the most recent one before Saturday by Brodeur against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 21, 2013, came as the result of the goalie being the last player from his team to touch the puck before a player from the other team accidentally scored into his own net.
|Back to top|