Eaves, the 17th skater in the 11-round shootout, faked hard to his left and drew Predators goalie Pekka Rinne over. As Eaves moved the puck back to his right, his skate hit a divot in the ice and he went flying into the end boards.
“I think I just caught a rut or something, and toe picked it,” said Eaves, who never got a shot off. “I was parallel to the ice, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is not good.’ And then I was trying to swing at it, and my plan just went downhill real quick after the toe pick.”
He did manage to whack the puck toward the net with his stick while he was in mid-air, hoping to become highlight-worthy like Alex Ovechkin’s falling-down goal in the 2009 playoffs. Instead, Eaves made the blooper reels.
“I’m like, ‘You almost scored,’ ” forward Drew Miller
said. “I mean, if that had got on net and got in, that would have been better than that Ovechkin goal. That would have been a pretty good highlight there.”
Eaves said he couldn’t help laughing before he even hit the ground.
“I got back to the bench and all I saw was (Kris Draper), I thought he was going to fall over laughing,” Eaves said. “You know, there was more celebration after that then after a goal I score … I thought it was hilarious. If someone else would have did it, I would have laughed just as hard, probably. So it was all in good fun, it got people laughing, it was awesome.”
His teammates couldn’t resist ribbing him about the epic fall, even replaying clips of the moment in the Wings’ locker room on Monday.
“It was funny,” forward Valtteri Filppula
said, who couldn’t stop chuckling when talking about the event. “He was laughing, we were all laughing.”
Miller was slightly more cautious to join the banter for superstitious reasons.
“You got to chuckle a little bit, but you don’t want to give yourself bad karma, it could happen to you sometime,” he said.
Wings coach Mike Babcock felt that Eaves had the right attitude about the event, saying that it’s a positive lesson for young hockey players.
“The best part for me and the message for kids right there, I thought was when he was laying on the ice smiling,” Babcock said. “That’s what life’s about, you get out there and give it everything you got.”
But Babcock was not above razzing his right winger, saying, “My kids wanted me to rewind it and show it to them, so I had no trouble doing that.”
Eaves, who is now 0-for-3 in shootouts this season, played in his 300th career NHL game in the Wings’ 1-0 win. He won’t soon forget how he reached that milestone.
“The fact that we won in a shootout and that happened to me,” he said, “I’ll always remember that.”