Craig Smith (via NHL.com)
The only person who could stop Craig Smith’s wide-open net attempt in overtime Monday was Craig Smith. And Craig Smith stopped it in incredible fashion. Watch as he shoots and stops his own shot on the follow through to rob himself of the game-winner.
If it wasn’t bad enough that Craig Smith already had one infamous empty-net gaffe, the Nashville Predators winger had a second unbelievable miss Monday night.
You may recall Smith’s first miss back in 2011 from a tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Smith had taken the puck in alone on an empty net and, in an attempt to put the puck underneath the crossbar, Smith fired the puck up and over the wide-open goal and into the stands from mere feet away. Incredibly, his miss Monday is just as unthinkable.
Smith had found space to the right of Montreal Canadiens netminder Mike Condon in overtime when Mike Ribeiro put a puck right on Smith’s tape. With Condon completely out of position, Smith fired the puck towards the wide-open net and, somehow, managed to get his stick back out in front of his shot to deflect it out of the net. It has to be seen to be believed:
Smith’s reaction says it all. Down on the ice, clutching his head and probably wondering how on earth that was possible, Smith gathered himself off the ice and headed to the bench for overtime to end.
"Oh my gosh. I was talking to (James Neal) and was saying that like I've done that a ton of times in practice," Smith told The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan post-game. "It was just one of those things where it happens fast. ... I don't know. It happened so fast. You say you want to change something, but in the moment, you're trying to play, you're trying to score."
But Smith would get his redemption as the contest went to a shootout. As the Predators’ third shooter in a scoreless shootout, Smith deked in on Condon before firing home the shootout winner. Even scoring the shootout-winner, though, there’s almost no doubt Smith had to hear it from teammates about his miss post-game.
"It's kind of funny now,” Smith told Vingan. “But it wasn't funny at the time."