Generally speaking, NHL goaltenders have a basic job, go stand in front of a net and let men shoot 90-mile-per-hour little rubber discs at you. Sometimes though, they have a magic stretch and end up in the record books. From fights to shutout streaks and beyond, here are some of the strangest goaltender records in NHL history!
Number 5: Most saves in an NHL game
This category is actually broken up over three separate records, the most saves ever, the most saves in the “modern” NHL, meaning players who debuted in 1955 or later, and most playoff saves. The most ever saves belongs to Red Wings goalie Normie Smith, who recorded 92 saves during a playoff game in 1936, which is also the NHL’s longest ever game at 176 minutes. Even though neither are officially recognized by the league today, they stand as the all-time record. The modern day records currently belong to Quebec Nordiques’ goalie Ron Tugnutt with 70 saves during a regular season game on March 21, 1991. And the playoff record was set just a few years ago by Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo with 85 saves in a triple overtime loss to the Lightning in 2020. Worth noting former Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon made 94 saves during the longest game in AHL history at 147 minutes over the course of five overtimes during the 2018 postseason, second only to Michael Leighton’s 98-save five-OT win in 2008.
Number 4: Most consecutive shutouts
This particular category officially recognizes every era of hockey. Brian Boucher owns the modern day record at an amazing 332 minutes and one second. From December 31, 2003 to January 9, 2004, the Coyotes and Boucher had five straight shutouts before Randy Robitaille of the Thrashers scored at 6:16 of the first period of the game on January 11. There are two goalies who had longer streaks, George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens is second all-time with a 343:05 record in 1928-29 and first place is held by Alec Connell of the original Senators at a whopping 460:49 minutes in 1927-28. That’s over seven and a half games worth of shutouts! The closest goalie since Boucher was Ilya Bryzgalov, of all people, when he went 249:43 without allowing a goal during the 2011-12 season with the Flyers.
Number 3: Career goals scored on a goaltender
Not only does Martin Brodeur hold the record for most career goals for a goalie with three, he is also the only goaltender to score on an opposing goaltender. Even though it was a technicality, in a game in 2013 the Canes were playing on the delayed penalty; Brodeur chipped the puck into the corner and Jordan Staal tried to send the puck to the point, but nobody was there. Goalie Dan Ellis skated back onto the ice as fast as he could, but couldn’t make the save. Since Brodeur was the last Devil to touch the puck and Ellis was on the ice, it was a goal against. Every other instance of a goalie goal in the NHL, the goaltender was off the ice in favor on an extra attacker, which counts as a regular empty-net goal.
Number 2: Most games without recording a shutout
There’s all kinds of asterisks in the record book with this one, but the official record belongs to Eldon “Pokey”Reddick who played all 132 games of his NHL career without recording a single shutout. Starting his NHL career in 1986, Reddick played 132 games in six seasons between the Jets, Oilers, and Panthers without ever recording a shutout. Some goalies have gone longer, Ed Staniowski first shoutout came 176 games into his career, but he played more games beyond that streak. The closest modern example was Jakob Markstrom, who made it to 129 games before his first NHL shutout.
Number 1: Longest unbeaten streak to start a career
This is one of the few records where the title holder is undisputed. Patrick Lalime of the Pittsburgh Penguins went 16 games without a loss to open his career during the 1996-97 season. Lalime’s streak started in his second ever NHL game, coming in relief of Ken Wregget on December 6, 1997 and managed to pull out a 5-3 victory. He would go undefeated for 16 straight games (14 wins, two ties) before suffering his first defeat on January 23 against the Avalanche. During that stretch he recorded his first shutout over the Sharks and a 49-save showing against the Flames. He technically played in 18 games before his first loss, but both were in relief appearances and he did not receive the decision in either contest, so they’re not officially recognized as part of the streak.
Most goalies used in a single season-
The Philadelphia Flyers just broke this record during the 2018-19 season when they utilized eight goaltenders. They entered the season with the duo of Brian Elliott, who was coming off core muscle surgery during the offseason, and Michal Neuvirth, who could never stay healthy for more than a few games at a time. Then they turned to their AHL tandem in Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz. Lyon also got hurt and Stolarz was traded for Cam Talbot. Cal Pickard and Mike McKenna were picked up off waivers and top prospect Carter Hart was eventually recalled to the NHL. Talbot was the eighth guy when he started on February 1, 2019.
Most goalies used in a playoff series
This record belongs to the 1985-86 Winnipeg Jets who used four in the first round of the 1986 playoffs. It is even crazier when you consider the Flames swept the Jets in three games. Dan Bouchard started game one before being pulled in favor of Brian Heyward after allowing three goals. Heyward would start game two, but was pulled after allowing six goals and replaced by Marc Behrend. Daniel Bertiaume started game three, but the Jets lost in overtime and the Flames won the series.
Most PIM by a goalie in a single season-
Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Ron Hextall owns this record. After recording two straight seasons with 104 penalty minutes, Hextall broke his own record during the 1988-89 season with 113. Nobody really comes close to any of Hextall’s three 100-plus minutes, as Tom Barrasso is the runner-up with 70 PIM. Hextall also holds the record for all-time PIM by a goaltender, with 569, almost 100 more minutes than second place Billy Smith.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: thescore.com