From all-decade teams to the greatest moments of the previous 10 years, there has been a lot of reminiscing as of late regarding the most memorable occurrences of the last decade as we get set to begin the 2020s.
For the Arizona Coyotes, the 2010s were an up-and-down decade. The team experienced sustained success to start the 2010s, with three straight playoff appearances in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but things went downhill from there, and the franchise hasn’t been back to the postseason since. Things are looking promising in 2019-20, though, and there’s hope that the Coyotes will once again start a decade with a playoff appearance in the coming spring.
As we prepare to cover more great Coyotes moments in the 2020s, we at The Hockey Writers decided to look back at the 10 best moments that took place on the ice in the 2010s. From individual milestones and accomplishments to team achievements, there was no shortage of great moments in the last 10 years of Coyotes history.
It was too difficult to narrow this list down to just 10 moments – here are a few that missed our cut, but are still worth mentioning:
Boedker Seals Perfect February
Entering February 2012, the then-Phoenix Coyotes found themselves in a precarious position. Dave Tippett’s group had just endured a 9-14-5 stretch in December and January, and were a single game above .500 (and in 12th place in the Western Conference) as the calendar flipped to February.
After qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2010 and 2011, a third-consecutive postseason berth was looking unlikely for Phoenix.
What followed, though, can only be described as one of the most magical months in NHL history. The Coyotes won their first five games of February behind goaltender Mike Smith, who allowed just six goals in that span. A shootout loss with backup netminder Jason LaBarbera in the net then followed, but Phoenix rebounded with another five-game Smith-led winning streak to push their record to 32-21-9 through 62 games, good for first place in the Pacific Division.
Looking to end February with a 12-game point streak, the Coyotes closed out the month with a showdown against the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena on Feb. 28. The Canucks had come up one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2011, and were en route to a Presidents’ Trophy in 2012, with a 40-16-7 record through 63 games. This was a formidable opponent, and they had dealt the Coyotes their only loss of February, a 2-1 shootout defeat at Rogers Arena on Feb. 13.
Indeed, this game between two division leaders lived up to the hype – goaltenders Smith and Cory Schneider surrendered just a single goal each, and the teams went to another shootout. Ray Whitney beat Schneider to open the shootout, and, after Smith made saves on attempts by Alexander Edler and Mason Raymond, 21-year-old forward Mikkel Boedker hopped over the boards with a chance to win the game:
Boedker’s goal sealed Phoenix’s near-perfect February, as they wrapped up the month with 23 of 24 possible points. It was only a shootout win, but this victory was a huge one for the Coyotes in 2011-12.
More on this season later.
Ekman-Larsson Scores 44 Goals in 2 Years
We’ll admit, we’re cheating a bit here. This is a countdown of the best single moments of the decade, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 44 moments in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons deserve a mention.
OEL scored 23 goals in 2014-15, the most in a season by a defenseman in franchise history, and third-most in a season by any D-man in the 2010s. He followed that up with a 21-goal 2015-16 campaign, which is the sixth-best goalscoring season by a defenseman in the 2010s, and second-best in Coyotes history.
We couldn’t narrow it down to just one Ekman-Larsson goal here – there were too many to choose from.
There was the overtime winner against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 16, 2014, with 0.3 seconds remaining in extra time, which was one of the 15 GWGs that Ekman-Larsson scored during this two-year span.
There was the shorthanded goal from center ice five seconds into the third period at the Air Canada Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 29, 2015, which, officially, is the quickest shorthanded goal to start a period in NHL history. Unofficially, this is the fastest goal to start a period ever – the puck clearly was in the net with 19:57 on the clock, one second earlier than the official NHL record of 19:56.
There was the coast-to-coast goal against the Vancouver Canucks on Mar. 22, 2015, when Ekman-Larsson took the puck from one goal line to the other for a beautiful goal.
There was another late overtime winner against the Oilers, this time with 8.9 seconds remaining on Jan. 12, 2016.
Two seasons. 44 goals.
2014 to 2016 might have been the peak of Ekman-Larsson’s career – we haven’t really seen goals like these from him since, and we may never see back-to-back 20-goal seasons from a Coyotes defenseman again.
Doan’s Broken Stick Shootout Winner
Regular-season games in the month of December typically hold little significance in the grand scheme of things throughout a season, but the way this Dec. 27, 2014 game between the Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks ended will persist as one of the more memorable moments of Shane Doan’s NHL career.
After Mikkel Boedker, Dany Heatley, Sam Gagner, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette, and Ryan Kesler were all denied in the shootout, Captain Coyote hopped over the boards to take Arizona’s fourth attempt on Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen. What happened next is hard to describe, and words don’t really do the moment justice, anyway – see for yourself:
Doan’s goal put the Coyotes in front, and Devan Dubnyk stopped Ryan Getzlaf at the other end to give Arizona one of the strangest shootout victories in their history.
The Wizard Reaches 1,000 Points
Ray Whitney played just two seasons in the desert, but “the Wizard” packed a ton of memorable moments into those 24 months.
We’ll get into another one of his accomplishments later, but, on March 31, 2012, Whitney joined an exclusive club – with an assist on a Radim Vrbata power-play goal, Whitney became the 79th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point milestone:
There are now 89 players in the 1,000-point club, with Minnesota’s Eric Staal being the newest member, but Whitney remains the only player to reach the milestone in a Coyotes sweater. The fact that the historic assist came on home ice gave the fans in Glendale a moment they will never forget.
Hanzal Wins Game 1 in OT
There will be many moments from the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs on this list.
Martin Hanzal’s overtime winner in Game 1 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarter-Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks is one that just misses the cut.
In the first of what would eventually become a record-setting five straight overtime contests to start the series, the Coyotes got a game-winner from Hanzal to salvage a Game 1 victory after surrendering a game-tying goal to Brent Seabrook with just 14.2 seconds remaining.
After winning a faceoff against Chicago’s Marcus Kruger, Hanzal went to the front of the net. Defenseman Rusty Klesla missed the net with his try, but Adrian Aucoin collected the puck and sent it toward goaltender Corey Crawford, where Hanzal was lying in wait:
Hanzal’s deflection goal gave Phoenix their first home-ice playoff overtime victory since April 24, 1999.
It was a great moment, but it just misses the cut.
Derek Morris from Center Ice
Another goal from Game 1 of a 2012 playoff series.
This time, it’s Derek Morris’ center-ice snipe on Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to open the scoring for Phoenix in the Western Conference Final on May 13, 2012.
In a theme that would persist throughout the entire series, the Coyotes were being badly outplayed by the Kings in the first period of Game 1. They had surrendered a goal to Anze Kopitar less than four minutes in, and the Kings were pushing hard for another first-period tally. Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris had other ideas, though:
The Coyotes ultimately lost Game 1, 4-2, and the series, 4-1, but Morris’ center-ice goal was one of the more electrifying moments of the decade for the franchise. It’s hard to remember the crowd in Glendale ever being louder than it was on this night, for this goal.
Now, without further ado, let’s get our countdown started.
10. 19 Goes to the Rafters
The No. 10 moment on our list was all about No. 19.
On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, the Coyotes honored the Captain, Shane Doan, in a lengthy pregame ceremony which culminated in his No. 19 being raised to the rafters of Gila River Arena. Other players – Keith Tkachuk, Teppo Numminen, Jeremy Roenick, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, and Bobby Hull – are in the franchise’s Ring of Honor, but Doan was, fittingly, the first player to officially have their sweater number retired by the franchise.
The ceremony itself was scheduled for an hour – it was to get started at 5:00 P.M., with the game itself between the Jets and Coyotes scheduled for 7:00 P.M., with time for clearing the ice surface and team warm-ups in between. However, things went long – the ceremony lasted for 90 minutes, which resulted in puck drop taking place closer to 7:45 P.M., but, if you asked everyone in the building, I’m not sure anyone would have raised any objections.
Emceed by Fox Sports Arizona’s Todd Walsh, the ceremony featured around 30 invitees on the ice surface. Present were many of Doan’s former teammates, including Roenick, Numminen, Mike Gartner, Curtis Joseph, Ray Whitney, Danny Briere, Tyson Nash, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Paul Bissonnette, among others. Also in attendance were 2001 World Series champion and Arizona Diamondbacks legend, Luis Gonzalez, along with two Arizona Cardinals legends: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, and future Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly were also in the building, as was Coyotes’ President and CEO, Ahron Cohen. Both teams, front offices, and coaching staffs were also present on the ice, despite the fact that they had an important game coming up in a matter of hours.
Shane’s father, Bernie, and mother, Bernice, were also front-and-center, as were Doan’s wife, Andrea, and children, Josh, Carson, and Karys. The Doans’ other child, Gracie, could not be in attendance, but appeared via a recorded message. Also unable to be in attendance was Tkachuk, the original Captain Coyote – he was in attendance at the Ottawa Senators – Calgary Flames contest being played at the Canadian Tire Centre, where his two sons, Brady and Matthew, were playing against one another in the NHL for the first time.
Bettman, Cohen, Ekman-Larsson, Briere, and Nash all spoke during the ceremony, and figures such as Max Domi, Keith Yandle, Carey Price, Mike Fisher, Paul Goldschmidt, Travis Green, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and Jarome Iginla were all present in the video tribute played at the arena. There were many great moments throughout the evening, but Nash’s speech left few dry eyes in the house.
Doan then spoke for close to 30 minutes, and, following a lengthy, well-deserved standing ovation, was clearly emotional throughout his time at the podium. For those who followed Doan’s career in Arizona, it was hard to remember a time when he was more open, vulnerable, and candid than he was on this night.
Following Doan’s speech, his No. 19 was raised to the rafters, and the Captain was presented with a custom golf cart and Harley Davidson motorcycle to commemorate the occasion.
Both the Jets and Coyotes then wore No. 19 Doan sweaters during warm-ups, and the ‘Yotes honored their former captain by winning the game, 4-1.
All in all, it was a great night to be at Gila River Arena, and it’s unlikely we’ll see another number raised to the rafters any time soon.
9. Boedker’s Back-to-Back OT Winners
The No. 9 moment on our list is actually two moments that took place in a three-day span.
We previously discussed Martin Hanzal’s OT winner in Game 1 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarter-Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in the honorable mentions section above. After Chicago’s Bryan Bickell returned the favor with an OT winner of his own in Game 2, the series shifted to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 at the United Center.
Game 3, which is remembered more for Raffi Torres’ infamous headshot on Marian Hossa than the actual game itself, was actually an exciting one to watch. Chicago’s Andrew Brunette scored the game’s opening goal late in the first period, but no more scoring would occur until a wild 4-on-4 situation late in the contest, where three goals were scored in a span of 1:05, with the Coyotes’ Rusty Klesla and Ray Whitney along with Chicago’s Michael Frolik getting in on the action. With the score tied at 2-2, things settled down after the high-scoring 4-on-4 sequence, and, for the third straight game to start the series, the teams headed to overtime.
With around seven minutes remaining in the overtime period, Klesla forced Patrick Kane to turn the puck over in the offensive zone. Taylor Pyatt gained possession and chipped the puck past defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and into the corner. Hjalmarsson won the battle, but was unable to gain control of the puck, instead directing it weakly away from Pyatt.
Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker then collected the puck and fired a bad-angle shot at Crawford, who, perhaps not anticipating the shot, was not in a good position. The puck got past him, giving Boedker his first career playoff goal:
Two nights later, the same two teams were at it again in Game 4, and, unsurprisingly, the game again headed to overtime after another outstanding game between the two Western Conference foes. Doan and Pyatt scored within 44 seconds of each other to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead in the third period, but the Blackhawks came roaring back. Brendan Morrison cut Phoenix’s lead in half at 10:25, then, with Crawford on the bench, Michael Frolik buried the equalizer with just 1:26 on the clock.
After scoring the overtime winner in Game 3, Boedker found himself with Game 4 on his stick less than three minutes into OT after a bad pinch by Chicago’s Nick Leddy:
Boedker’s two overtime goals gave Phoenix a commanding 3-1 series lead, and they ultimately closed out their first-round victory on United Center ice in Game 6 with a 4-0 triumph.
8. The First Whiteout in Glendale
Coming in at No. 8 on our list is the return of the whiteout to the desert following a seven-year hiatus.
After qualifying for the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Coyotes quickly saw a decline in their play – they posted just 53 wins over the next two seasons before the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 campaign. The miserable Wayne Gretzky era then followed, bringing with it four more fruitless seasons before the 2009 bankruptcy brought an end to the Great One’s affiliation with the team.
Dave Tippett then took over the coaching duties of a team that, at best, was a massive dumpster fire. The Jerry Moyes-induced destroyed the team’s financial wellbeing, drove away many fans, began relocation rumors which persist to this day, and resulted in the NHL itself taking over ownership of the team.
Not much was expected out of the team on the ice due to the franchise’s off-ice issues, but Tippett’s 2009-10 Coyotes responded with the greatest season in franchise history – a 50-win, 107-point regular season, and the team’s first playoff appearance since the 2003 relocation to Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena.
Phoenix’s 2010 first-round opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, came to Glendale on April 14, in the first NHL playoff game to be contested in the state of Arizona since April 24, 2002 – a 2,912-day span.
The Red Wings got on the board first, and held a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, but Phoenix responded. Wojtek Wolski and Derek Morris beat Jimmy Howard, and Ilya Bryzgalov shut the door the rest of the way as Coyotes fans celebrated a home playoff victory for the first time since April 19, 2000.
The series eventually went to a deciding seventh game, which was won convincingly by Detroit, 6-1. Despite the series loss, the 2009-10 season and the return of the whiteout went a long way toward generating the fan support and local positivity the franchise needed during that period of immense turmoil.
7. Smith Leads Coyotes to Pacific Division Title
After the 11-0-1 February that we discussed earlier, the 2011-12 Coyotes found themselves in the driver’s seat in the Pacific Division entering March.
However, the club then went 4-6-4 from Mar. 1 to Mar. 25, and arrived at the season’s final five games with a very tenuous hold on a playoff spot as a result – they were tied for first in the division with the Dallas Stars, but were just a single point above the West’s ninth-place team, the San Jose Sharks.
Needless to say, anything but a strong finish would put the team in danger of missing the playoffs. With the season on the line, goaltender Mike Smith stepped up and put the team on his back.
Smith pitched three consecutive home shutouts against the Sharks on Mar. 29, the Ducks on Mar. 31, and the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 3 to keep the Coyotes in the hunt for a division title entering the season-ending two-game road trip. In the penultimate game of the year in St. Louis on April 6, Smith again stood on his head, making 31 saves on 32 shots to send the Central Division champion Blues to a 4-1 loss.
Entering the final game of the season in Minnesota on April 7, Phoenix had a one-point lead on the Kings and Sharks in the Pacific. Only a win against the Wild would guarantee the first division title in franchise history – anything else risked a second or third-place finish, or bringing tiebreakers into the equation.
The Coyotes, playing with a sense of urgency, got out to a fast start – Mikkel Boedker and Taylor Pyatt scored in the game’s first 14 minutes, and that was all the support Smith would need. He turned aside all but one of the 24 shots he faced as the Coyotes won, 4-1, and clinched the Pacific Division title and the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
Overall, during Phoenix’s late-season run to clinch the division, Smith went 5-0-0 with a .990 save percentage and a 0.40 goals-against average. For the season, Smith went 38-18-10 with a .930 SV% and 2.21 GAA. In the playoffs, Smith posted a 9-7-0 record with a .944 SV% and 1.99 GAA.
If you look up the definition of “in the zone” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of 2012 Mike Smith.
6. Doan Breaks Franchise Goals Record
Over the course of his final few seasons in the NHL, it seemed like Shane Doan was breaking some sort of league or franchise record on a nightly basis.
On New Year’s Eve 2015, Doan reached the holy grail of franchise milestones – he became the Coyotes/Jets all-time leading goalscorer at Gila River Arena against, ironically, the Winnipeg Jets:
The goal, the 380th of Doan’s remarkable career, moved him past Dale Hawerchuk and into first place in the franchise’s record books for goals.
Earlier, Doan had become the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, passing Thomas Steen on Dec. 8, and Doan later moved past Hawerchuk on the all-time points and power-play goals list with a three-point night against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 12, 2016.
In a record-breaking 2015-16 season for the Captain, “Doan 380” night was the most memorable takeaway.
5. Doan’s First Career NHL Hat Trick
Entering play on Jan. 7, 2012, Doan had played in 1,160 games during his NHL career across 16 seasons with the Coyotes. He’d racked up 305 goals and 455 assists during that span, but one individual milestone had eluded him.
Doan had yet to score a hat trick at the NHL level.
He’d scored two goals in a game 38 times, but he’d never been able to get that elusive third goal in any of those 38 games. In fact, Doan’s inability to record a hat trick also had earned him a dubious NHL record – he was tied with Petr Sykora for the most two-goal games to start a career without a hat trick being scored in any of them.
Well, after scoring goals in the first and second periods against the New York Islanders in Game No. 1,161, Doan found himself looking at a 39th-career two-goal game. In Period No. 3, Doan’s teammates continually fed their Captain the puck, but Doan could not bury any of his chances.
With the final seconds winding down and the Islanders in control of the puck, things weren’t looking promising. However, Oliver Ekman-Larsson forced a turnover and fired the puck up to Ray Whitney, who quickly skated up the ice. He then dropped a pass back to a trailing, exhausted Doan, and the rest is history:
Since the puck flew past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and into the net just as the final horn was sounding, the on-ice officials had to review the play to make sure the goal occurred during regulation time. No one seemed to care that the goal might not count, though, as the fans at Jobing.com Arena began to litter the ice with hats anyway. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, referee Rob Martell finally pointed to center ice, confirming that the goal would indeed count, giving Doan his long-awaited first career NHL hat trick.
Replays indicated that the puck had crossed the goal line with just 0.1 seconds remaining in the third period, and, as color analyst Tyson Nash said on the air, “you couldn’t have wrote it any better.”
4. Doan Scores No. 400 in No. 1,500
Yet another Doan milestone – this one took place in 2016-17, his final year in the NHL.
The Captain began the year needing just four goals to reach 400 in his career, and, after a 28-goal season in 2015-16, it was expected that Doan would reach the milestone relatively quickly. However, the 40-year-old could not buy a goal for most of the year. Through his first 33 games, Doan lit the lamp just three times despite firing 75 shots on net – a 4.0% shooting percentage, much lower than his career S% of 10.2%.
Entering play on Dec. 23, 2016, the snakebitten Doan was sitting on 399 goals in 1,499 games played. That night, with the Toronto Maple Leafs in town, Doan would became the sixth player in NHL history to skate in 1,500 games with the same franchise, joining Gordie Howe, Nicklas Lidstrom, Alex Delvecchio, Ray Bourque, and Steve Yzerman as the few who have accomplished this feat requiring longevity, production, and loyalty.
The international spotlight was focused squarely on Glendale in this one – Doan’s milestone made league headlines, and the visiting Maple Leafs always bring lots of media attention, but this game was Auston Matthews’ first in Arizona since the Scottsdale native was selected by Toronto with the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Every eyeball in Canada was focused squarely on this game, and, of course, the Captain showed up on the big stage:
Doan would score just two more goals in his career following No. 400, so this was, arguably, his final great moment on the ice in a Coyotes sweater.
3. Whitney Wins Game 1 in OT
Another playoff overtime winner.
This time, it came on April 27, 2012, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Nashville Predators, off of the stick of Ray Whitney.
In front of a raucous home crowd (the writer included) on a Friday night in Glendale, the Coyotes and Predators both came into the game fresh off of first-round victories over Original Six opponents. As previously discussed, the Coyotes had taken down the Blackhawks in the Quarter-Finals, while the Predators were fresh off of a five-game triumph over the Red Wings.
On the ice, Radim Vrbata opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 7:23 in, but, later in the period, Nashville’s Brandon Yip was the beneficiary of a crazy bounce off of a glass stanchion and tied the game by tapping the puck into an empty net, as Mike Smith had gone to play the puck behind the net.
Rostislav Klesla and Mikkel Boedker scored for Phoenix in the second period to offset a goal from Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn, and the Coyotes went to the third period with a 3-2 lead, and an eye on a Game 1 victory.
However, the Predators absolutely dominated the final period of the contest, outshooting Phoenix 16-1. They were only able to beat Smith once, though – a power-play goal from Martin Erat came with 4:42 remaining, and, for the sixth time in seven 2012 playoff games, the Coyotes found themselves in an overtime game.
Nashville resumed its dominance during the sudden-death action, outshooting Phoenix 9-5 through the first 14 minutes of the period, and it seemed like a Predator victory was inevitable. However, after Martin Hanzal won an offensive-zone faceoff at the 14:02 mark, “the Wizard” made the magic happen:
The goal came out of absolutely nowhere – the Predators had just dominated the last 34 minutes of action, outshooting Phoenix 25-7, but it took just two seconds for Ray Whitney to beat Pekka Rinne for the game-winner after the Hanzal faceoff victory.
Whitney’s goal set the tone for how the rest of the series would go for Nashville, as the Coyotes won two of the next three games to set up a series-clinching opportunity on home ice, which brings us to the next moment on our list…
2. Coyotes Advance to Conference Final
10 days after Whitney scored the winner in Game 1, the Coyotes found themselves with a 3-1 series lead, with Game 5 coming on Jobing.com Arena ice on May 7, 2012. They had rolled to a 5-3 victory in Game 2 in Glendale on April 29, then split Games 3 and 4 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on May 2 and May 4, respectively.
After a scoreless first period in Glendale, Derek Morris opened the scoring for the Coyotes, as he collected an attempted Shane Doan centering pass and blasted a blue-line slapshot through traffic and past Pekka Rinne to give Phoenix a 1-0 advantage.
Later in the period, Martin Hanzal doubled Phoenix’s lead – Daymond Langkow fed Kyle Chipchura with a nice pass, and Chipchura found Hanzal, who had just come onto the ice. Hanzal used Nashville forward Gabriel Bourque as a screen, and ripped a wrister past Rinne to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.
Nashville ended Mike Smith’s shutout bid with just under six minutes remaining in the third period, and furiously pushed for the equalizer. As he had done all year, though, Smith stood tall, turning aside every Predator shot thrown his way. He nearly scored a goal of his own in the final seconds, with his shot attempt going just wide of the net and resulting in an icing call with 2.1 seconds remaining, but the Coyotes won the ensuing faceoff and held on to eliminate Nashville in five games and advance to the Western Conference Final.
With the victory, the Coyotes were on the winning end of a handshake line on home ice for the first time since 1987, when the then-Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 6-1 in Game 6 of the Smythe Division Semi-Finals at Winnipeg Arena. It stands as one of the best moments of the decade.
1. Mike Smith From 200 Feet
From a historical significance standpoint alone, Mike Smith’s goal has to be the No. 1 moment of the 2010s for the Coyotes franchise.
On Oct. 19, 2013, the Detroit Red Wings were in town for their only visit of the year to Jobing.com Arena. They had taken a 2-0 lead in the game, but an Antoine Vermette goal with exactly one minute remaining in the second period got the Coyotes some momentum heading into the intermission, which they used to score three unanswered third-period goals to turn a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead.
With the seconds winding down, the Red Wings had their goalie pulled as they attempted to score twice and get the game tied up. Mikael Samuelsson fired a long-range shot from just inside the blue line towards Smith, and he made an easy glove save with around five seconds on the clock. Instead of freezing the puck or playing it to the corner to run out the clock, Smith came up firing towards the empty net:
As was the case with Doan’s hat trick, everyone at Jobing.com Arena went crazy, but it wasn’t immediately clear that the goal would actually count. The clock was running down while Smith’s attempt slid towards the net, and the buzzer sounded right as the puck crossed the goal line. About a minute later, TV viewers saw the replay with the game clock overlay, which finally confirmed that Smith’s goal was scored with one-tenth of a second remaining, and would count. It was officially a 5-2 Coyotes victory, and Smith joined the small group of goaltenders who have scored in NHL action.
There have been 11 goaltenders to be credited with goals in the history of the National Hockey League, but, prior to Smith, only five ever scored with a direct shot on goal – Ron Hextall (twice), Chris Osgood, Martin Brodeur, Jose Theodore, and Evgeni Nabokov – and no one has done it since. A goalie goal is one of the rarest achievements in sports – for comparison’s sake, 23 players have pitched perfect games in Major League Baseball history, while 15 have recorded unassisted triple plays. Over in the National Basketball Association, just six players have recorded 70 or more points in a game. In the National Football League, only eight players have passed for seven or more touchdowns in a game.
With only six members in the club, and seven total occurrences overall, a goalie goal by way of a shot on net is right up there with professional sports’ rarest achievements, and Coyotes fans were lucky enough to see one take place in their own building. Smith’s goal is our No. 1 moment of the decade.
Well, that’s our list! Did we get any of these wrong? Did we have some of these ranked incorrectly? Did we miss your favorite moment entirely? Let us know in the comments or on social media, and we’ll try to do better in 2029!
I, for one, can’t wait to see more great moments unfold over the next decade in Arizona.
A lifelong Phoenix resident, Louis has been following hockey since 2010, has covered the Arizona Coyotes since 2015, and has been playing hockey since 2020. So far, Louis has visited eight NHL cities, and one of his personal goals is to eventually make it to all 31 NHL arenas. For any questions or concerns, contact the writer via Twitter @LouisPannone.