Last night, NHL fans were treated with one of the most exciting plays in hockey - the goalie goal. With his team leading 4-2 and only 25 seconds remaining in the game, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne figured “why not”. He stopped a loose puck behind his own net and launched the puck in the air. After drifting over Kirby Dach’s head and bouncing just beyond the opponent's blue line, Rinne’s shot landed square in the middle of the Chicago Blackhawks’ net. A goalie goal is an incredibly exciting thing - particularly for those of us who grew up playing between the pipes - and they’re so rare that when we see one, it’s worth celebrating the way Rinne and his teammates did last night.
It was the 15th goalie goal in modern NHL history and the first one since Mike Smith scored for the Phoenix Coyotes back in 2013. It’s only the eighth time a goalie has actually shot the puck the length of the ice for a goal.
The goalie-goal has a long history in the post-expansion era of the NHL. Martin Brodeur has become the face of the goal having scored three over his Hall of Fame career, while most fans remember Ron Hextall being the first to shoot the puck the length of the ice into an opponent's net. But that wasn’t the first goalie goal.
The first goal ever credited to a goalie in the NHL came in a game in Denver, Colorado back in November 1979. Hall of Fame goalie, Billy Smith was in net for the New York Islanders as they were in town to take on the Rockies. Less than five minutes into the second period, Smith made a save and kicked the puck into the corner - some great rebound control by the way - where the loose puck was picked up by Rockies defender Rob Ramage. The Rockies were playing with the net empty as a delayed penalty was coming against the Islanders. Ramage grabbed the puck and threw an ugly pass back to the point. It missed his teammates and sailed right into Colorado’s net.
Smith became the first goalie to have his name in the Goal column of an NHL score sheet and Denver became the home of some hockey history. It stood as the only goal scored by a goalie in the NHL for the next eight seasons.