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This Week in Sports History: Hextall makes history against the Bruins

On Dec. 8, 1987, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall made NHL history by becoming the first goalie to score a goal. In a game against the Boston Bruins at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, the Flyers were able to climb out to a 3-2 lead in the final minutes of the game. In response, the Bruins pulled their backstop Rejean Lemelin for an extra attacker, allowing Hextall a golden opportunity. 

Following a Bruins dump-in, the future Hall of Famer controlled the puck on his stick before sending a looping shot down the length of the ice. The Bruins players directly in front of Hextall ducked as the shot flew toward their goal, with it bouncing just once before landing flat and sliding smoothly into the empty and exposed goalmouth. The goal put the Flyers two goals ahead, en route to a comfortable 4-2 victory. 

Both of the aforementioned team’ seasons went in different directions after the game. The Flyers got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals, and the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were swept by Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. 

Hextall proved himself handy with his stick later on in his career, scoring the very next season in a playoff game against the Washington Capitals. The goal was even more impressive than the first, where Hextall controlled the puck behind the goal and slung it with ease across the rink into an unprotected goal.

Legendary Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood became the next goalie to score a goal seven years after Hextall’s second goal. In a game during the 1994-95 season against the Hartford Whalers, Osgood slid to control a shot with his stick and unleashed a laser beam down the ice. Fluttering and spinning, the puck comfortably went into the middle of an empty net to cement Osgood’s legacy as one of only twelve goalies to have ever scored in the league. 

While Hextall scored the first, one of his understudies, Martin Brodeur, became known for his ability to play the puck with his stick and score. Broduer scored just like Hextall did in a 1997 playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens, and he scored twice more in his career thanks to some fortunate deflections into empty nets on the other end of the ice. 

In part due to Brodeur’s sporadic and adventurous playstyle, the “trapezoid rule” was implemented into the league’s rules, limiting the areas in which a goaltender is able to control the puck. 

In his final NHL season, Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne became the most recent goalie to score. In a regular season game against the Blackhawks, Rinne dropped to one knee and used all his might to lift the puck in the air. The shot outpaced a Chicago defenseman and ended up rattling off of the back of the goal frame to give Nashville a comfortable 5-2 victory.


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