A Brief History of Goalie Goals
Pekka Rinne scored a goal for the Nashville Predators last night. He was the twelfth goalie in NHL history to have scored one. Who are the others?
A note before we begin:
I feel it is important to note the following things:
- While there have been 15 goals scored by goalies, there have only been 12 goalies to score; Ron Hextall scored two and Martin Brodeur scored three.
- Of the 15 goals scored, only eight of them have been scored by legitimate shots on goal from the goaltender’s stick to the net at the other end of the ice.
- The other seven have been scored when a player scored an own-goal with the opposing team’s goaltender being the last opponent to touch the puck—an unnamed affiliate of this team doesn’t like to bring it up, brag about it, or even talk about it too much because he didn’t actually take a shot./
The Goalie Goals
Billy Smith scored the first goaltender goal on November 28th, 1979. He was playing for the New York Islanders against the Colorado Rockies (you may know them as the New Jersey Devils). With about 15 minutes left in the game, the Rockies had possession of the puck during a delayed penalty and pulled Bill McKenzie in favor of an extra attacker. McKenzie was the last Islander to touch the puck before it came out to Rob Ramage, who made an errant pass to the point, which was vacant, and the puck sailed down to the empty net.
Ron Hextall was the first goalie to score a goal by taking a shot. He also scored the second legitimate goalie goal when he scored again a couple years later in the playoffs. His first came on December 8th, 1987 when the Philadelphia Flyers were facing the Boston Bruins. With a two-goal deficit, the Bruins pulled Reggie Lemelin in order to gain an advantage. In the waning seconds of the game, the puck came to Hextall from the neutral zone. He stopped it and took his shot. The rest is history.
Ron Hextall (2)
Hextall’s next, and final, goalie goal came in the 1989 playoffs against the Washington Capitals. With time running out, the Flyers found themselves on the penalty kill. The Capitals decided to make a solid run at trying to catch up the Flyers (who were up 7-5) and pulled Pete Peeters. The Flyers managed to get possession of the puck and passed back to Hextall, who took one look down the ice at his target and let one rip. The Flyers would win the game 8-5 and Hextall would become the first goalie to score a legitimate goal in the playoffs.
Chris Osgood was in net for the Detroit Red Wings on March 6th, 1996. The Red Wings were up against the Hartford Whalers (who would soon become the Carolina Hurricanes) and were up 3-2. The Whalers pulled Sean Burke and, during the ensuing empty-net sequence, the puck came to Osgood, who saw a golden opportunity, took aim, and fired. The Red Wings would win 4-2.
Marting Brodeur joined Ron Hextall as the second goalie to score a goal during the playoffs on April 17th, 1997. The New Jersey Devils were up against the Montreal Canadiens, leading 4-2. The Canadiens pulled Jocelyn Thibault. The Devils tried to clear the puck and the Canadiens shifted to chase it down, but it was stopped at center ice. The Canadiens fired the puck back in. Brodeur stopped it behind the net, brought it out to the left of his net and took his shot. The crowd went wild. Devils won, 5-2.
Damian Rhodes was the next goalie to score a goal, but after all the recent excitement of legitimate goals, Rhodes scored much in the same way Billy Smith scored, during a delayed penalty that resulted in an own-goal (by Lyle Odelein). The opposing goalie? Martin Brodeur. Rhodes was the first goalie to score a goal in both the AHL and the NHL. He would be joined later by another member of the club.
Martin Brodeur (2)
The Devils were playing the Flyers on February 15th, 2000. It was, as with Rhodes, a delayed penalty leading to an own-goal (by Daymond Langkow). Coincidentally, this was the game-winning goal, and the only goal by a goalie that worked out this way.
Jose Theodore was in net for the Montreal Canadiens as they faced the New York Islanders on January 2nd, 2001 (the two-year anniversary of Damian Rhodes’ goal). The Islanders were trailing by two and pulled John Vanbiesbrouck. The puck came to Theodore, who stopped the puck and took his (backhanded) shot. It traveled very slowly, built suspense, and eventually found the back of the net. Theodore’s goal remains the only backhanded goalie goal.
Evgeni Nabokov was minding the net for the San Jose Sharks on March 10th, 2002 as they faced the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks were down by two and found themselves killing off a penalty in the remaining few seconds of the game. They opted to pull Peter Skudra in order to have five skaters on the ice. The puck came to Nabokov and he got set up and took a big shot down the ice. It sailed in for the first power play goalie goal.
On Valentine’s Day 2004, the Toronto Maple Leafs trailed the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 with only a minute left. After Leafs goaltender Trevor Kidd left the ice, Toronto had multiple shot attempts on goal, until Noronen made a save and the puck dribbled behind the net. Robert Reichel attempted to pass to a teammate in front of the goal, but missed (as players in this article tend to do) and the puck sailed into the empty net with 43 seconds remaining in what became a 6-4 Buffalo victory.
The first member of the Nashville Predators franchise to score a goaltender goal came from none other than Fox Sports Tennessee color commentary man Chris Mason, on April 15th, 2006, against the Phoenix Coyotes. Geoff Sanderson attempted a pass after a Mason save back to a teammate at the blueline on a delayed penalty, and missed into the empty net, giving Mason credit for the goal being the last Nashville player to touch the puck. Mason and Damian Rhodes are also noteworthy for being the only two players to record goals in both the NHL and AHL.
It would be five years after Mason’s goal before another was scored, this time by Cam Ward for the Carolina Hurricanes, on December 26th, 2011. With 30 seconds left in the game, Ward made the save, then a misfired pass from Ilya Kovalchuk was sent into the empty net in a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Martin Brodeur (3)
On March 21st, 2013, Martin Brodeur made history by scoring his third goal. On a delayed penalty by the Devils (who were already on the PK at the time) Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Dan Ellis headed for the bench for the extra attacker only 3:54 into the game. The only problem was that Jordan Staal had missed a pass, and even though Ellis attempted to stop the puck, it went in, so technically this was not an empty-net goal and counted as a goal against for Dan Ellis.
This would be the last of the six goalie goals that involved the New Jersey Devils—three goals for (by Brodeur) and three goals against. Billy Smith—the first goalie to score a goal—did so against the Colorado Rockies, a previous incarnation of the Devils.
Until last night, this was the most recent goalie goal in the NHL. On October 19, 2013, Mike Smith (then) of the Phoenix Coyotes attempted the goal against the Detroit Red Wings and it trickled across the line with exactly 0.1 seconds left in the game. This goal was the latest any goalie goal had been scored, and will likely stand as such at 59:59.9. It had been eleven and a half years since the last “legitimate” goalie goal was scored, as Smith recorded a shot on goal on the attempt to cap off the 5-2 win. Smith also is the only goaltender to score a goal in both the NHL and ECHL, being credited with a goal as a member of the Lexington Men O’ War in 2002.
Last night, in Chicago, the Nashville Predators were playing in just their second game under John Hynes after Peter Laviolette was relived of his duties midway through the season. The Chicago Blackhawks were operating without Corey Crawford on the ice and the Predators had just extended their lead while the net was empty, as Nick Bonino threw one down the ice to put the Predators up 4-2. Immediately after the faceoff, Corey Crawford headed back to the bench as Patrick Kane dumped the puck in. Rinne stopped it behind the net in a perfect position to take a long shot down the ice. He got enough elevation on the puck to clear the opposing players and watched the puck sail into the net, putting the Predators up 5-2 and giving the franchise their first win under their new coach.
This goal also made the Predators the first NHL franchise to have goalie goals from two different goalies. In a stroke of incredible fortune, Chris Mason was on the call for Fox Sports Tennessee. I will note that Mason, a class act, did not mention his own goalie goal and allowed Pekka Rinne to bask in his own glory.
And how glorious it was.