Last week, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur scored the third goal of his illustrious NHL career. Well, over the weekend, I happened to overhear a couple of gentlemen discussing the issue of goalies scoring goals at a local drinking establishment that I sometimes frequent, and they were all wrong.
One said that the last goalie to score a goal was Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings. The other said there had only been six or seven goalie goals ever. At that moment, I realized I had to do something to set the record strait. And no, that did not mean butting into their conversation. It’s never a good idea to correct a couple of drunk hockey fans. Instead, I decided to write this list accounting for every goalie goal ever scored in the NHL.
You see, there have been 13 goals scored by goalies in the history of the NHL. Of those, six were intentionally shot by a goalie into the open net of the other team. The other seven were own goals that were awarded to the goalie because he was the last member of his team to touch the puck.
So who were these goal-scoring goalies? Let’s take a look.
When: November 28, 1979
Billy Smith, the guy who backstopped the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in the 1980s, was also the first goalie in NHL history to be officially credited with a goal. Rob Ramage of the Colorado Rockies (who later became the New Jersey Devils) fired the puck into his own net after his goalie had left the ice on a delayed penalty, and since Smith was the last Islander to touch the puck, he got the credit.
Interestingly, Smith wasn't the first goalie initially credited with a goal. During the 1976-77 NHL season, the Los Angeles Kings' Rogie Vachon was briefly credited with a goal on a similar play. However, replays later revealed that one of his teammates had actually touched the puck, so that guy ended up getting the goal.
Also interesting? This first goalie goal in NHL history is also the only one scored in a losing effort. All of the other goals came in wins.
1. Billy Smith
When: December 8, 1987
Eight years after Smith accidentally became the first NHL goalie to score a goal, the Philadelphia Flyers' Ron Hextall became the first to do it on purpose. The Flyers had a two-goal lead over the Bruins with just over a minute left in the game, so Boston pulled their goalie to get the extra attacker. If the Flyers had a one-goal lead, Hextall probably wouldn't have tried to shoot on goal because if he missed, the Bruins would get a faceoff in the Philly zone and a chance to tie the game. However, with a two-goal lead, Hextall had the perfect opportunity...and he made history.
2. Ron Hextall
When: April 11, 1989
Ron Hextall was not only the first goalie to intentionally shoot the puck into the other team's net. He was also the first to do it twice, and the first to do it in the playoffs. During their first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals in 1989, the Flyers had a two-goal lead in Game 5, so when the opportunity presented itself, Hextall decided to go for history again. It worked, and the Flyers went on to close out the series in Game 6.
3. Ron Hextall
When: March 6, 1996
The next goalie to score a goal was Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings. He shot a puck into an open net late in a game against the Whalers back in '96. Interestingly, this was the first time a goalie scored a goal when his team only had a one-goal lead. So in other words, that took some cojones.
4. Chris Osgood
When: April 17, 1997
In 1997, the great Martin Brodeur decided, hey, you know what? Scoring goals looks like a blast. So with a two-goal lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the first game of the first round of the playoffs, Brodeur gave it a shot. Obviously, he succeeded, becoming just the fourth goalie to score a goal and only the third to do it on purpose.
5. Martin Brodeur
When: January 2, 1999
Early in 1999, American Damian Rhodes became the first non-Canadian goalie to score a goal. Playing for the Ottawa Senators in a game against the Devils, of all teams, Rhodes got credit for an own goal put in the New Jersey net by Lyle Odelein. It wasn't nearly as cool as the previous four goalie goals, which were all the result of actual shots, but it was the first goalie goal that didn't come in the third period. This one came in the first.
6. Damian Rhodes
When: February 15, 2000
Martin Brodeur tied Ron Hextall on the list of career goals by a goalie during a game against the Flyers, ironically. This one, however, was an OG scored on a delayed penalty in the second period, so I'm sure Flyers fans would insist that Brodeur have an asterisk by his name in the record books.
7. Martin Brodeur
When: January 2, 2001
Jose Theodore became the fourth NHL goalie to record a goal as the result of an actual shot on net. The Canadiens netminder scored with a 2-0 lead and just nine seconds left on the clock during a game against the Islanders back in 2001.
8. Jose Theodore
When: March 10, 2002
Evgeni Nabokov, a Kazakhstan-born Russian, became the first goalie born outside North America to score a goal in the NHL. He is also the last goalie to score a goal by shooting it into the net on purpose. The feat was achieved in the last minute of a game against the Canucks back in 2002. Nabokov's San Jose Sharks had a 6-4 lead when he got the puck and fired it down the ice and into the open net.
9. Evgeni Nabakov
When: February 14, 2004
On Valentine's Day 2004, Finland's Mika Noronen of the Buffalo Sabres got credit for an own goal netted by Robert Reichel of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
An own goal scored by a member of the Maple Leafs...yep, that sounds about right.
10. Mika Noronen
When: April 15, 2006
Despite the fact that this is one of the most recent entries on the list, Chris Mason's goal in 2006 is the only one for which I could not find even a poor-quality video. Of course, if you've been keeping track, then you know this, too, was an own goal. The Predators goalie got the credit when Phoenix's Geoff Sanderson put the puck in his own net on a delayed penalty midway through the 3rd period. So really, we're not missing much.
11. Chris Mason
When: December 26, 2011
The Carolina Hurricanes' Cam Ward became the 10th goalie in NHL history to score a goal back in 2011. Trailing by one goal, the New Jersey Devils' $100 million superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk, put the puck in his own net late in a one-goal game. Ward was the last Hurricane to touch it, so he got the goal and the Hurricanes cemented a 4-2 win.
12. Cam Ward
When: March 21, 2013
So now, finally, we arrive at the most recent goalie goal, the one scored by Martin Brodeur last week. It certainly wasn't pretty, coming off a Jordan Stall own goal, but it did make Brodeur the all-time goal leader among NHL goalies...like the guy needed another bullet point on his Hall of Fame resume.
Want to know a really interesting stat? If you count the Colorado Rockies, who were a part of the very first goalie goal and later became the Devils, New Jersey has been on one side or the other of six of the 13 goals scored by goalies. The Flyers have been involved in three, as have the Hurricanes (if you count the Whalers in 1996), and the Islanders and Canadiens have each been involved twice.
Funny how these freak occurrences are clustered, isn't it?