It's not every day that an NHL goaltender scores a goal, and that's what makes it so special.
On November 28, 1979, New York Islanders netminder Billy Smith made NHL history. After Rob Ramage of the Colorado Rockies misplayed the puck and sent an errant pass into his own net, Smith became the first goalie ever to be credited with scoring a goal.
It was eight years later that Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers became the first ever goalie to physically shoot the puck into the opposing team's net.
The odds of such a goal occurring are so slim that when it does, people take notice.
When a goalie shoots the puck, it must possess a certain precision in order to find the opposite net, 200 feet away. This task is particularly difficult considering the puck must miss the goaltender's teammates along with the opposing team's players.
In the event of a goalie being credited when his opponent fires it into their own net, the play is usually so fluky and lucky (or unlucky) that it makes highlights. With the other team's extra attacker, pressure is so high on the goalie that it takes a massive blunder from an attacking player to score on his own net from the length of the rink.
In all, goalies have scored by physically shooting the puck a total of six times. Another six goaltender goals have been the result of another team's own-goal.
Oddly enough, the New Jersey Devils (formerly the Colorado Rockies) organization has been involved in five of the 12 NHL games where a goalie has scored.
So where does each goal rank among the best ever? Here is a ranking of every NHL goal ever scored by a goaltender with included video.
On December 26, 2011, Cam Ward became the first Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers goaltender to be credited with scoring a goal.
In this instance, Ward's blocker save on New Jersey's Patrik Elias made him the last Carolina player to touch the puck before Ilya Kovalchuk's pass missed Adam Henrique and wound up in the Devils' empty net.
After the game, it was declared that Brandon Sutter's stick did not touch the puck, so goalie Cam Ward was given the goal.
Ward is the most recent netminder to score a goal, and he's the first to do so since 2006.
This goal came as a result of a horrible miscue from both Kovalchuk and Henrique, who caused the puck to sail into their own net all the way from the offensive zone with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Hurricanes went on to win the game by a margin of 4-2, with Ward stopping 23 of 25 New Jersey shots.
First of all, my apologies for the video, but it's the only one I could find which contained footage of Mason's goal. Skip to 1:30 of the video to see the goal.
On April 15, 2006, Chris Mason scored his first career NHL goal after previously scoring a similar tally for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League years prior.
The Phoenix Coyotes were awaiting a power play after one of Mason's teammates took a penalty; however, the 'Yotes were unable to score on the Predators goalie with the extra attacker. Their own net, on the other hand, wasn't a problem.
Similar to Cam Ward's goal, Mason's blocker made him the last Pred to make contact with the puck before the Coyotes' Vernon Fiddler inadvertently shot the puck into his own net from the offensive zone.
Mason's goal added a little salt to the Coyotes' wounds, as the Predators ultimately downed them 5-1.
This game took place during the era of Wayne Gretzky coaching in Phoenix, and following the game, "The Great One" referred to Mason's performance as the "Grant Fuhr Hat Trick": a breakaway save, a win and a goal.
Taking a look back at the career of legendary New York Islanders goalie Billy Smith, he was known for a lot of things.
Battlin' Billy was known to be a very passionate netminder, he would even go so far as to refuse to shake the hand of his opponents after losing a playoff series. For four consecutive years, he backstopped the Isles to the Stanley Cup, and in 1983, he won both the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie. He also led the 1970-71 Springfield Kings to a Calder Cup. Smith was also noted for heavily agitating the opposing players by use of his fists or his goalie stick.
For years, it seemed Smith could do anything except score a goal, until of course, he did.
On November 28, 1979, Billy Smith inked his name in every NHL history book when he became the first-ever goaltender to be credited with a goal in an NHL game.
When the now-defunct Colorado Rockies pulled their netminder on a delayed New York penalty, rookie Rob Ramage looked to take full advantage of the situation. However, Ramage made a blind pass to the point which was unable to find a teammate, and subsequently traveled the length of the ice before ending up in the Colorado goal.
The Islanders went on to win 7-4 in a contest that will be remembered forever, in no small part thanks to Billy Smith and his historic goal.
Martin Brodeur's goal against the Philadelphia Flyers was something special.
Although the New Jersey Devils goalie didn't physically shoot the puck into the Flyers' net, he became just the second goaltender to ever score two goals in the NHL.
This one required a little luck, however.
Brodeur stopped an attempted wrap-around behind the net with his stick before the Flyers brought the puck all the way back to their end on a New Jersey delayed penalty. The play eventually ended when Philadelphia's Daymond Langkow shot the puck into his own team's empty net.
Brodeur backstopped the Devils to a 4-2 win on this night, and his goal actually ended up being the game-winner. Brodeur is honoured as being the only goaltender to ever score a game-winning goal.
Damian Rhodes' performance on January 2, 1999 may be just about the only reason to remember the former Ottawa Senators goaltender, but hey, the guy scored a goal!
Already pitching a shutout, Rhodes was credited with his first-ever goal when defenceman Lyle Odelein of the New Jersey Devils sent an errant pass towards Scott Niedermayer. Unable to receive the pass, Niedermayer was forced to look on as the puck wound up in the Devils' net, which was emptied when the Senators took a delayed penalty.
In conjunction with his 30-save shutout, Rhodes also made NHL history as he became the first-ever goalie to record both a shutout and a goal in a single game.
The Sens ended up handing the Devils a 6-0 loss, thanks to a tremendous two-way effort from Rhodes.
Before the days of Ryan Miller in Buffalo, the Sabres' goaltending duties were typically split between Martin Biron and Mika Noronen, a Finnish goalie who was a former first-round draft selection of the Sabres.
While Noronen's numbers weren't stellar, his crowning achievement came on February 14, 2004, in a contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Late in the game, the Leafs had pulled their netminder in hopes of tying the game. As the Leafs trailed 5-4, they had several great opportunities to draw even—all of which were denied by Noronen in great fashion. While it seemed Toronto would send the game to overtime in the final minute, Leafs centre Robert Reichel attempted a pass to the point, where his defencemen were unable to avail the feed. Finally, the puck ended up in the Maple Leafs' net, around 200 feet away. Noronen was credited with the goal by virtue of being the final Buffalo player to make contact with the puck.
The Sabres went on to win the game 6-4, and Noronen's goal not only made him the first Sabres goalie to score, but also the first goalie of Finnish descent to do so.
On March 10, 2002, as a member of the San Jose Sharks, Evgeni Nabokov scored on a Vancouver Canucks empty net to become the first non-North American goalie to ever score a goal in an NHL game.
With the Canucks' net empty, the Sharks were on the power play with a great chance to extend their lead, which was already 6-4 in the final minute of regulation.
Rather than lead the PP rush, San Jose defenceman Mike Rathje passed the puck off to his team's goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov proceeded to shoot the puck into the Canucks' net, which was especially impressive given the vertical magnitude Nabby put on the puck.
Nabokov holds the honour of being the only NHL goalie to ever score a power-play goal, and he's the most recent 'tender to score by physically shooting the puck into an opponent's net rather than be credited for the other team's own-goal.
Just over eight years after Billy Smith scored the first-ever goaltender goal in NHL history, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall made history in his own right.
Hextall is remembered not only for being the most controversial NHL goaltender of all time, but also for his puck-handling abilities. Those skills were never put on display more so than they were on December 8, 1987, when Hextall became the first-ever National Hockey League goalie to physically shoot he puck to score.
With the Boston Bruins' net vacant, a Bruins player chipped the puck into Philadelphia's zone in hopes of creating a play which would tie the game for Boston. Hextall, however, had other plans, as he shot the puck from the goal line for his historic first career goal.
Hextall and the "Broadstreet Bullies" went on to win the game by a final score of 5-2.
On March 6, 1996, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood became only the second NHL goalie to ever directly shoot the puck into the opposing team's net. Osgood accomplished this feat behind only Ron Hextall, who had done it twice.
In a game against the Hartford Whalers, "Ozzie" and the Red Wings held a 3-2 lead over the Whalers in the final minute. That's when Hartford decided to make the risky move of pulling their goaltender. After stopping a long shot by the Whalers, Osgood used a quick release to shoot the puck past all 11 skaters and into the Hartford goal.
Osgood's goal was only the fourth goaltender goal in league history, and it propelled the Detroit Red Wings over the Hartford Whalers 4-2.
When Martin Brodeur donned his Montreal Canadiens jersey as a Habs fan growing up in Montreal, he couldn't have predicted that he would one day score his first career goal against his hometown team.
However, on April 17, 1997, Brodeur did just that.
During Game 1 of the New Jersey Devils' first-round encounter with the Canadiens, the legendary goalie took advantage of an empty Montreal net to become just the second-ever netminder to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
During the final moments of the third period, the Habs pulled goaltender Jocelyn Thibault in hopes of forcing overtime, but failed to capitalize.
After using his blocker to stop Montreal's Mark Recchi, Brodeur chased down a Montreal chip-in and sent the puck flying the length of the ice with a precision that is really something to behold.
The Devils would win this game 5-2 and would go on to eliminate the Canadiens in five games.
Brodeur, along with Ron Hextall, holds the honour of scoring one of the two postseason goals ever tallied by a goaltender, adding to his many NHL goaltending records.
Heading into the 1989 Stanley Cup Playoffs, only two goaltenders had ever been credited with an NHL goal: Billy Smith in 1979, and of course, Ron Hextall in '87.
On April 11, 1989, Ron Hextall completed two firsts. Not only was he the first goalie to score on two separate occasions, but he also scored the first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff goal by a goaltender.
In Game 5 of the Philadelphia Flyers' first-round series against the Washington Capitals, Scott Stevens dumped the puck in wide of Hextall's net.
Never one to miss an opportunity to appear on a highlight reel, Hextall took advantage of the situation, scoring with just over a minute remaining to lift the Flyers to an 8-5 win. The goal capped off a comeback in which the Broadstreet Bullies battled back from a 5-4 deficit in the third period.
That year, the Flyers went all the way to the Conference Finals, where they bowed out to the Montreal Canadiens. During that series, Hextall received a 12-game suspension for his assault on Chris Chelios.
Arguably the greatest goaltender goal to ever be scored in the National Hockey League came on January 2, 2001, when the phenomenal Jose Theodore of the Montreal Canadiens scored on an empty New York Islanders net.
With the Isles' goaltender pulled in favour of an extra attacker, Theodore scored possibly the flashiest goal ever scored by an NHL masked man.
Although five other goalies had previously scored, Theodore was the first to do so using his backhand. This twist on the classic version of the goaltender goal does a lot to add to both the difficulty and the "wow" factor of Theodore's goal.
No doubt, this tally will be one of those goals that seems near impossible to duplicate, as such a feat can only be accomplished by a player who was playing with the level of confidence Jose Theodore had that season. Theodore went on to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender and the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP.
The precision and magnitude required to score from Theodore's position are only heightened because of his backhand, which is more than enough to make it the best goaltender goal in NHL history.