As a hockey fan, there’s nothing more stressful than when your team holds a fragile one-goal lead with about 1-2 minutes left on the clock.
What can make it more nerve wracking is when the opposing team decides to pull their goalie and gain control the puck in your zone.
You hope that your team can somehow regain puck possession and score on the empty net to put the game out of reach.
Until then, you’re sweating bullets because the opposition is swarming the net trying to tie the game up.
But there is one instance where that stress can turn to excitement. It’s that very moment when your goalie gets his hands on the puck on a dump-in behind the net. They have about a 1 second window to lob that puck 200 feet across the ice into the yawning cage.
Considering how very seldom it happens, you know you’ll be witnessing history. A goalie scoring a goal – right before your eyes.
Now back to reality.
The likelihood of a goalie attempting the shot is actually quite rare. Most of the time, they stop the puck behind the net and leave it for their defensemen.
Or maybe they just play it along the boards themselves – you know, the safe play.
In fact, the only goalies who might think about shooting the puck are those with excellent puck handling and shooting skills.
But in the heat of the moment, goalies would rather make the high percentage play rather than risk a turnover or an icing if they miss the net.
So then how many times has it actually happened…?
How Many Goals Have NHL Goalies Scored?
A total of 15 goals were scored by goalies over course of NHL history both regular season and playoffs combined. Twelve different goaltenders have accomplished the feat, with Martin Brodeur doing so three times and Ron Hextall twice (full list below). The last goalie to do so was Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne on January 9, 2020.
Both Brodeur and Hextall were the only ones to score each once in a playoff game, which speaks volumes of their confidence and puck handling abilities.
As a note, only seven goalies (8 total goals) actually scored by shooting the puck directly at the net. The remaining goaltenders were credited for being the last player to touch the puck before it went in.
You can see an NHL montage of all the goalie goals to date.
In case you're not able to see the video, below we've included the full list, followed by a brief description on how they were scored.
List of goals scored by goalies throughout NHL history
November 28, 1979
Ron Hextall (1st)
December 8, 1987 (SHOT)
Ron Hextall (2nd)
April 11, 1989 (SHOT)
March 6, 1996 (SHOT)
Martin Brodeur (1st)
April 17, 1997 (SHOT)
January 2, 1999
Martin Brodeur (2nd)
February 15, 2000
January 2, 2001 (SHOT)
March 10, 2002 (SHOT)
February 14, 2004
April 15, 2006
December 26, 2011
Martin Brodeur (3rd)
March 21, 2013
October 19, 2013 (SHOT)
January 9, 2020 (SHOT)
1. Billy Smith (November 28, 1979)
Billy Smith, of the New York Islanders, was the first ever goalie to be credited with scoring a goal in the NHL. On a delayed penalty against the Islanders, the Colorado Rockies pulled their own goalie for the extra attacker. On the play, Smith went down on his knees to make a save and gave up a rebound to his left. The puck made its way to the corner and the Rob Ramage attempted to send the puck back to the point. Unfortunately, no one was there and the puck ended up in the Rockies’ net with Smith to have last touched the puck for the Islanders.
2. Ron Hextall (December 8, 1987)
Ron Hextall, of the Philadelphia Flyers, was the first goalie to score by way of actually shooting the puck on net. On a dump in by the Boston Bruins, with the goalie pulled, Hextall was able to intercept the puck before it reached the boards. With no Bruins around him, Hextall shot the puck on his forehand at the empty cage and scored.
3. Ron Hextall (April 11, 1989)
While playing against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, Hextall was able to accomplish the feat again. With just over a minute left in the game the Capitals crossed centre ice and slapped the puck around the boards deep into the Flyers zone. Hextall went behind his net intercept the play, recovered the puck and shot at the empty net.
4. Chris Osgood (March 6, 1996)
Playing against the Hartford Whalers, Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings was given his chance to score on an empty net. After a cross dump-in attempt by the Whalers, Osgood was able to intercept the puck by laying his shaft down against the ice. With his two defenders in the way of the nearest opponent and with about 15 seconds left in the game, Osgood shot the puck at the yawning cage.
5. Martin Brodeur (April 17, 1997)
The second and last time (so far) a goal was scored in the playoffs came from Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. I personally remember watching this goal live on TV as he did it against my beloved Montreal Canadiens. With the score being 4-2 in favour of the Devils and less than 50 seconds left, the Habs tried dumping the puck around the boards. In the process, Brodeur was able to stop the puck and fling to the empty net.
6. Damian Rhodes (January 2, 1999)
Damian Rhodes of the Ottawa Senators was credited with scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils off a broken play. In fact, he made a save off a backhand in the slot and was the last player to touch the puck for the Senators. The Devils managed to recover the puck and a few passing plays later the error happened. The Devils player tried sending the puck back towards the point - which missed 3 teammates in range, but not the empty net.
7. Martin Brodeur (February 15, 2000)
Marty's second goal came off a Devil's delayed penalty and a forced error against the Philadelphia Flyers. Initially, while in the Devils' zone, the Flyers player tried to pass the puck in the slot area which Brodeur quickly paddled away. The Flyers recovered the puck, but made an errant pass out of the offensive zone. With enough pressure, the Devils forward was able to force the Flyers player to push the puck into his own empty net.
8. Jose Theodore (January 2, 2001)
Jose Theodore's goal was scored in a game against the New York Islanders. With an empty net, the Islanders dumped the puck in around the boards. Theodore was able to intercept the puck and quickly shoot it off his backhand, even with considerable pressure on him. However, he still managed to lob the puck passed everyone into the empty cage.
9. Evgeni Nabokov (March 10, 2002)
San Jose Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov was able to score in a game against the Vancouver Canucks. With less than a minute left, the Canucks player backhanded the puck directly towards Nabokov on a dump-and-chase. With zero pressure and an ample amount of time, Nabokov simply shot the puck to an empty Vancouver net and scored.
10. Mika Noronen (February 14, 2004)
With an empty net for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres were trying to protect a one-goal lead. The Leafs managed to get a shot off Mika Noronen in the slot, but it was stopped a directed into the corner. The Leafs maintained possession with the puck finding its way in back of the net. In the last sequence, the Leafs player tried to make a pass in the front of the net, but the puck made a beeline to the empty cage at his own end.
11. Chris Mason (April 15, 2006)
On a delayed penalty against the Nashville Predators, the Phoenix Coyotes pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. While entering the Predators, the Coyotes player took a slap shot which Chris Mason saved with his right pad. The Coyotes' players managed to recover the puck, and began passing it around in the zone. Unfortunately, the last pass to the point skipped over the stick of the intended target and made it into the empty net at the other end.
12. Cam Ward (December 26, 2011)
With just over 30 seconds left in a game between the New Jersey Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes, the improbable happened again. The Devils had their goalie pulled trailing the game 3-2 and possession of the puck. While in the zone, the Devils point player shot the puck, which Cam Ward was able to steer to his right. The puck was then recovered by the Devils and passed around in the corner. It was last handled by Ilya Kovalchuk who attempted a pass to his point man moving the other way, missing his target completely. The play resulted in yet another own-goal at the other end of the rink.
13. Martin Brodeur (March 21, 2013)
Brodeur's third goal came in a game between the New Jersey Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes. The Carolina forward managed to split the Devils defensemen, draw a hooking penalty and get a shot off Brodeur, who easily pushed the puck aside. The puck was recovered by the Cane's player who then attempted a cross ice pass back to his point player. However, the puck missed its intended target, banked off the boards and into the Hurricanes net. Obviously, the net was empty because they pulled it for the extra attacker on the delayed penalty.
14. Mike Smith (October 19, 2013)
Mike Smith's goal was actually quite impressive considering how much time was left on the clock - almost missing the mark altogether. With the game pretty much sealed at 4-2, the Detroit Redwings shot the puck in on Phoenix Coyotes' Smith with about 5 seconds remaining. Smith quickly dropped the puck out of his glove and shot the puck on the empty net down the ice. On video replay, the goal was scored with only 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
15. Pekka Rinne (January 9, 2020)
Pekka Rinne's goal came against the Chicago Blackhawks off a dump-in and shot attempt. Nashville Predators' Rinne was able to intercept the puck being shot off the boards with his skate. And with the Blackhawks net empty and not offensive threat, Rinne quickly placed the puck on his blade and successfully shot it towards the empty net.