GLENDALE, Ariz. - It isn't often that the Phoenix Coyotes sweep a season series from the Detroit Red Wings. And it's an even rarer occurrence when an NHL goalie puts a puck in the net himself.
Both happened within seconds Saturday night, when Coyotes goalie Mike Smith became the 11th NHL goalie to score a goal - and just the seventh to shoot it in himself - just before to the final buzzer to cap a Phoenix rally and a 5-2 win against the Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena.
It was the first goal credited to a goalie in the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes franchise history and the 14th in NHL history. Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils has three and Ron Hextall had two with the Philadelphia Flyers - the only netminders with multiple goals.
Smith, who called out his team Friday for playing scared in the third period of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks, capped a 31-save night by gloving a Mikael Samuelsson shot, springing to his feet and flinging the puck the length of the ice for his first NHL goal. 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," said the second goalie named Smith ever to score a goal - Billy Smith of the New York Islanders was the first to be officially credited with a goal on Nov. 28, 1979. "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 had already been named the No. 1 star of the game for shutting down the Red Wings after they scored twice in the first 8:02 to put the Coyotes in a hole.
Despite playing their second game in two nights, Phoenix kept coming and applying pressure. Antoine Vermette scored in the final minute of the second period and Mike Ribeiro tied the game 5:07 into the third before Red Wings killer Martin Hanzal scored the game-winner with 12:52 to play as the Coyotes beat Detroit for the second time in nine days.
"I was very impressed with the will our guys had, getting home at 2 a.m. [from Anaheim]," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Even when we were down 2-0, I loved the way we were playing. And then to come out in the third period and score four with Smitty getting a big one at the end … it's hard to be impressed sometimes but I was impressed with our players tonight."
Hanzal has scored 11 of his 67 NHL goals against the Red Wings, who had won four straight since losing 4-2 to Phoenix in Detroit nine days ago.
"I always like to play against them. I love their history and the great players they have had and it's definitely something extra." Hanzal said. "It's such a challenge; you just want to beat them. I've been working on going low blocker and it worked out."
Ribeiro added his second goal of the night with 6:46 left. He has a point in each of the past six games and the Coyotes haven't lost in regulations (4-0-2) during that run.
Detroit's Jimmy Howard made 28 saves, including a second-period penalty shot by Shane Doan, but Phoenix pushed the play for the final 40 minutes and finally got to him.
"They played last night and we didn't [but] they worked harder than we did," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We weren't good enough, we didn't play hard enough and we didn't have enough people going."
Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi gave Detroit the quick 2-0 lead with goals in the first 8:07. Henrik Zetterberg found Datsyuk open in the right circle with a pass from the deep left corner, and Datsyuk picked the top corner at 4:47 for his fifth goal and third in the past two games. Datsyuk has 15 goals and 58 points in 43 career games against Phoenix.
Less than four minutes later, Bertuzzi made it 2-0 all by himself. After pestering Zbynek Michalek from behind in the Phoenix zone, Bertuzzi rushed then intercepted Michalek's pass, raced in along and put a shot through Smith at 8:02.
But Smith shut the door from there and the Coyotes took over the play. Howard, back after missing three games with a bruised catching hand, robbed Vermette and David Schlemko on one power play and stopped Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ribeiro on another in the first period. He passed another test in the second when Doan was taken down from behind on a clear path to the net by Detroit's Brendan Smith 3:46 into the period. Howard stuffed Doan's penalty shot attempt with the pad, his ninth save in the 13 penalty shots he's faced in his career.
The Coyotes got a big break at 11:08 of the second when, Smith suffered a neck stinger and tumbled to the ice after making a stick save on Datsyuk. Zetterberg put the puck into an open net with Smith sprawled on the ice, and the referees disallowed the goal.
"I have been down before and teams have scored and it has counted," Howard said. "It's up to the ref's discretion, and I think they made the right call. When a goalie is down like that, it should be blown down."
Phoenix finally broke through with 59.9 seconds left in the middle period when Vermette used Doan as a decoy on a 2-on-1 break before snapping a shot under the crossbar. Vermette's third goal of the season and second in two nights cut the Detroit lead to 2-1 and got the crowd of 14,624 back into the game.
The Coyotes tied the game 5:07 into the third when Howard stopped Mikkel Boedker's shot from the right point, but the rebound squirted to the bottom of the left circle and Ribeiro swept it home. Then it was Hanzal, taking a cross-ice pass from Lauri Korpikoski after a Detroit dump-in struck a linesman. He cruised in and beat Howard for 19th point in 23 games against Detroit.