Hockey fans don’t get to witness NHL goalies scoring a goal very often, but that’s exactly what we were pampered with on February 25 when Boston Bruins’ goalie Linus Ullmark netted an empty-netter goal (unassisted) with 48 seconds left to secure a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It was exciting!
“It’s one of the dreams I always had that I wanted to score a goal,” Ullmark said in his post-game interview – adding that he tried it recently in the Winter Classic (on Jan. 2), but this time he didn’t miss. Not only did his team get the win, but he went home with the puck that he scored the goal with.
Here’s a look at the incredible moment as it happened:
Ullmark is having an incredible 2022-23 season thus far and it’s only getting better as the playoffs grow closer and closer. Through 39 games played, he leads the NHL in wins (32), save percentage (.938), and goals against average (1.89). His Bruins will likely enter the playoffs as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
Other NHL Goalies to Score a Goal in a Game
The NHL has been around since 1917, but it took more than 60 years for a goalie to be credited with a goal – though many NHL goalies tried prior to that. In fact, there was an instance in 1977 when Rogatien Vachon was credited with the first goal by an NHL goalie, but it was given to his teammate after a review.
The first goal from an NHL goalie came in 1979, but it has remained a rare occurrence in the 40+ years since. In the league’s history, only 13 NHL goalies have been credited with a goal and only two of those NHL goalies have done it more than once – one goalie, in particular, did it three times in his career.
Those 13 NHL goalies include Linus Ullmark, Pekka Rinne, Mike Smith, Martin Brodeur, Cam Ward, Chris Mason, Mika Noronen, Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore, Damian Rhodes, Chris Osgood, Ron Hextall, and Billy Smith. We’ve already seen Ullmark’s, so let’s take a look at the other 12 feats!
12. Pekka Rinne – January 9, 2020
On January 9, 2020, Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne scored an empty-netter goal with just 22 seconds left in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings were down 3-2 at one point, but sent goalie Corey Crawford to the bench twice in desperation – Nick Bonino scored the other empty-netter.
It was the only goal of Rinne’s career, which lasted 15 seasons between 2005 and 2021 – he spent his entire career with the Predators. He finished his legendary career with an impressive 369-213-75 record in 683 games played, including a .917 save percentage, 2.43 goals against average, and 60 shutouts.
On February 24, 2022, a few months after retiring, Rinne had his No. 35 jersey retired by the Predators – becoming the first player in franchise history to have his jersey retired. “It gives me goosebumps to even think about it,” Rinne said of his ceremony. “This memory will stay with me the rest of my life.”
11. Mike Smith – October 19, 2013
On October 19, 2013, Phoenix Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith scored an empty-netter goal as time expired in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Coyotes took a 4-2 lead when Detroit pulled their goalie, Jimmy Howard, out of desperation. After a review, it was determined Smith scored with 0.1 seconds left.
It was the only goal of Smith’s career in the NHL, which lasted 16 seasons between 2006 and 2022. He played for five teams in his career – the Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes (6 seasons), Tampa Bay Lightning (4 seasons), Edmonton Oilers (3 seasons), Dallas Stars (2 seasons), and Calgary Flames (2 seasons).
He last played for the Oilers, posting a 16-9-2 record in 28 games last season, but is now considering retirement. He had a respectable 299-263-78 record in 670 career games with a .912 save percentage, 2.70 goals against average, and 44 shutouts. He had a career-high 38 wins during the 2011-12 season.
10. Martin Brodeur – 3 times (2013, 2000, 1997)
On April 17, 1997, New Jersey Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur scored the first goal of his career – an empty netter to seal a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. To this day, he’s the second goalie to score a goal in a playoff game – truly incredible!
On February 15, 2000, Brodeur scored the second goal of his career – an own goal by Philadelphia Flyers’ center Daymond Langkow halfway through the third period of an eventual 4-2 win over the Flyers. Brodeur was the last of his teammates to touch the puck before Langkow scored on his own goal.
On March 21, 2013, Brodeur scored the third goal of his career – an own goal by Carolina Hurricanes’ center Jordan Staal just four minutes into the first period. The Devils were on a power play, but they were also facing a delayed penalty – which is why the Hurricanes’ goalie was pulled. The Devils won 4-1.
9. Cam Ward – December 26, 2011
On December 26, 2011, Carolina Hurricanes’ goalie Cam Ward scored off an own goal by New Jersey Devils’ winger Ilya Kovalchuk with 30 seconds left in a 4-2 victory for Carolina. The Hurricanes were up 3-2 when the Devils pulled Johan Hedberg. An errant pass ultimately found its way in the wrong net.
It was the only goal of Ward’s career, which lasted 14 seasons between 2005 and 2019. He spent the first 13 years of his career with Carolina before playing one last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes as a rookie, going 14-8-2 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
He had at least 30 wins in five of the next six seasons after his impressive rookie year – including a career-high 39 wins in 2008-09 and two seasons with 37 wins (2007-08, 2010-11). He had a 334-256-88 record in 701 games with a .908 save percentage, 2.74 goals against average, and 27 career shutouts.
8. Chris Mason – April 15, 2006
On April 15, 2006, Nashville Predators’ goalie Chris Mason scored off an own goal by Phoenix Coyotes’ winger Geoff Sanderson halfway through the third period of a 5-1 win by Nashville. Mason recorded a save before a delayed penalty was called on the Predators, which is why Phoenix pulled their goalie.
It was the only goal of Mason’s career, which lasted 11 seasons between 1998 and 2013. He played for four teams during his career – the Predators (7 seasons, 2 stints), St. Louis Blues (2 seasons), Atlanta Thrashers (1 season), and Winnipeg Jets (1 season). He also struggled in 9 career playoff games.
Mason played 317 career games in the NHL and retired with a 137-113-32 record with a .909 save percentage, 2.66 goals against average, and 23 shutouts. In 2006-07, he placed 10th in voting for the Vezina Trophy with a 24-11-4 record and had a career-high 30 wins with the Blues in the 2009-10 season.
7. Mika Noronen – February 14, 2004
On February 14, 2004, Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Mika Noronen scored off an own goal by Toronto Maple Leafs’ center Robert Reichel with 43 seconds left in a 6-4 win by the Sabres. The Leafs were down 5-4 when they pulled their goalie, but an errant pass by Reichel went the length of the ice in the wrong net.
It was a big mistake by Reichel, who scored a power play goal less than two minutes prior to his own goal. It was the only goal of Noronen’s career, which lasted just five seasons between 2000 and 2006 – he spent most of his career with the Sabres before playing four games with the Vancouver Canucks.
Noronen played in 71 career NHL games and retired with a 23-32-6 record – including a .901 save percentage, 2.68 goals against average, and 3 career shutouts. His best season came in 2003-04, when he had a career-high 11 wins. Unfortunately, he coupled that with 17 losses and 2 overtime losses.
6. Evgeni Nabokov – March 10, 2002
On March 10, 2002, San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov scored an empty-netter goal with 48 seconds left in a 7-4 win vs. the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks were on a power play, but the Canucks pulled their goalie to level the playing field out of desperation – which is why their net was empty.
It was the only goal of Nabokov’s career, which lasted 14 seasons between 1999 and 2015. He played for three teams during his career – the Sharks (10 seasons), New York Islanders (3 seasons), and Tampa Bay Lightning (1 season). He was an All-Star and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2000-01.
Nabokov played in 697 career games in the NHL and retired with a 353-227-86 record – including a .911 save percentage, 2.44 goals against average, and 59 career shutouts. He led the entire NHL with 46 wins in the 2007-08 season, which was just the first of three consecutive seasons with at least 41 wins.
5. Jose Theodore – January 2, 2001
On January 2, 2001, Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Jose Theodore scored an empty-netter goal with just 9 seconds remaining to cap off a 3-0 shutout over the New York Islanders. It was quite an impressive score for Theodore, who had to go behind his net to grab the puck before dumping it with his backhand.
It was the only goal of Theodore’s career, which lasted 16 seasons between 1995 and 2013. He played for five teams during his impressive career – Canadiens (9 seasons), Colorado Avalanche (3 seasons), Florida Panthers (2 seasons), Washington Capitals (2 seasons), and Minnesota Wild (1 season).
Theodore played in 648 games in his career and retired with a 286-254-69 record – including a .909 save percentage, 2.68 goals against average, and 33 shutouts. He was a one-time All-Star, won the Vezina Trophy in 2001-02, the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2001-02, and Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2009-10.
4. Damian Rhodes – January 2, 1999
On January 2, 1999, Ottawa Senators’ goalie Damian Rhodes scored off an own goal by New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Lyle Odelein roughly halfway through the first period of an eventual 6-0 shutout for Ottawa. Devils’ goalie, Martin Brodeur (remember him?), was pulled during a Senators’ delayed penalty.
It was the only goal of Rhodes’ career, which lasted 10 seasons between 1990 and 2002. He played for three teams during his career – the Toronto Maple Leafs (4 seasons), Ottawa Senators (4 seasons), and Atlanta Thrashers (3 seasons). He also recorded six assists in his career for a total of seven points.
Rhodes played in a total of 309 games in the NHL and retired with a 99-140-48 record (one shy of 100 wins) – including a .899 save percentage, 2.84 goals against average, and 12 shutouts. He had a career-high 22 wins with the Senators in 1998-99 and finished the season with a 22-13-7 record.
3. Chris Osgood – March 6, 1996
On March 6, 1996, Detroit Red Wings’ goalie Chris Osgood scored an empty-netter goal with just 11 seconds left in a 4-2 victory over the Hartford Whalers. The Red Wings were up 3-2 when the Whalers pulled their goalie. They tried to dump it in, but Osgood grabbed the puck and flicked it into the net.
It was the only goal of Osgood’s NHL career, which lasted 17 seasons between 1993 and 2011. He played for three teams – the Detroit Red Wings (14 seasons, 2 stints), the New York Islanders (2 seasons), and St. Louis Blues (2 seasons). He was a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings.
Osgood played in a total of 744 games in the NHL and retired with an impressive 401-216-95 record – including a .905 save percentage, 2.49 goals against average, and 50 shutouts. In addition to his three Stanley Cup wins, he was a two-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner and one-time All-Star.
2. Ron Hextall – 2 times (1989, 1987)
On December 8, 1987, Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall scored an empty-netter goal with just 1 minute, 12 seconds left in a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. The Flyers were up 4-2 when the Bruins pulled their goalie. The Bruins tried to dump the puck, but Hextall grabbed it and flicked it into their net.
On April 11, 1989, Hextall scored his second career goal – an empty-netter goal with just 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining in an 8-5 victory over the Washington Capitals. The Flyers were up 7-5 and were shorthanded when the Capitals pulled their goalie for an advantage. Hextall erased that advantage.
With his first goal in 1987, Hextall became the second goalie credited with a goal and first goalie to score a goal by shooting it into the net – the first goal (below) was an own goal. His second goal was just as historic, with it being the first ever goalie goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was a true legend in net!
1. Billy Smith – November 28, 1979
On November 28, 1979, New York Islanders’ goalie Billy Smith scored off an own goal by Colorado Rockies’ defenseman Rob Ramage just five minutes into the third period. The Rockies pulled their goalie because of a delayed penalty on the Islanders, but an errant pass by Ramage went in the wrong net.
It was the first time a goalie was ever credited with a goal in the NHL and the only goal of Smith’s Hall of Fame career, which lasted 18 seasons between 1971 and 1989. He played for two teams during his career – the Islanders (17 seasons) and Los Angeles Kings (1 season, played 5 games with the team).
Smith played in 679 NHL games and retired with a 305-233-105 record – he had a .895 save percentage, 3.18 goals against average, and 22 shutouts. He was a four-time Stanley Cup winner, 1981-82 Vezina Trophy winner, 1982-83 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and 1982-83 William Jennings Trophy winner.
NHL Goalies With the Most Assists All-Time
NHL goalies might not score goals very often, but they do dish out assists from time to time – though still rare. For example, there are seven NHL goalies with two assists this season, including John Gibson, Ilya Samsanov, Tristan Jarry, Jacob Markstrom, Petr Mrazek, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Vitek Vanecek.
It used to be a little more common, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, there are four NHL goalies with at least 45 career assists all-time – Tom Barrasso (48), Grant Fuhr (47), Martin Brodeur (45), and Patrick Roy (45). Throughout the history of the league, only 27 goalies have at least 20 career assists.
And three of those NHL goalies with at least 20 career assists are still in the league today – Marc-Andre Fleury (21), Jonathan Quick (20), and Craig Anderson (20). Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely join that group at some point (he has 18 right now) and Tristan Jarry is already halfway there with 10 career assists.
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