Twenty years ago Saturday, Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into the opposing net.
You can see Hextall’s goal – and other goals both scored by goaltenders and credited to them – by clicking here.
Hextall’s goal that capped a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the Spectrum was the first ever actually scored off a goalie’s stick. The Islanders’ Billy Smith had been credited with the first goaltender goal in NHL history, but his goal on Nov. 28, 1979, didn’t have the same impact because he didn’t shoot the puck. He simply was the last Islanders player to touch it before it went sliding into the Colorado Rockies’ vacated net.
Two months into his second NHL season and with Bruins goaltender Reggie Lemelin on the bench for an extra attacker late in the third period, Hextall realized his chance. The Bruins’ Hall of Fame play-by-play man Fred Cusick anticipated Hextall’s feat in his memorable call: “Bourque pops it back in, 1:28 left. And Hextall is able to clear it out. Boy, he could score a goal sometime in a situation like this. Hextall is so strong in clearing. (Hextall) traps it. Here he goes, bidding for one. Here’s the clear. There it is. He scores!”
“My teammates all came off the bench and that was the special part for me,” Hextall, now the assistant GM in Los Angeles, told NHL.com. “I remember Scott Mellanby just screaming. I started thinking; ‘Maybe this is bigger than I thought.’”
Two years later, Hextall did it again, becoming the first goaltender to score a playoff goal on April 11, 1989, against the Washington Capitals.
Since then, only four other NHL goaltenders – Chris Osgood, Martin Brodeur, Jose Theodore (on the backhand!) and Evgeni Nabokov – have accomplished the rare feat of firing the puck into the net from the opposite crease. They can thank Hextall for being the innovator.
(Story from nhl.com)