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Rookie goalies make different kinds of history

Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 11:27 AM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Rookie goalies make different kinds of history
Two goalies made their NHL debuts Tuesday night in unexpected fashion. Neither allowed a goal, and while one of them earned a win, the other earned a unique place in NHL history.

The Carolina Hurricanes' Mike Murphy and the Minnesota Wild's Matt Hackett combined to stop all 36 shots they faced in their teams' games Tuesday.

Hackett, 21, the Wild's 2009 third-round pick, replaced starter Josh Harding just 1:11 into Tuesday's game against the San Jose Sharks when Harding suffered an upper-body injury after being hit by teammate Nick Schultz. He earned the win when his team rallied for a 2-1 victory.

Murphy, meanwhile, stopped both shots he faced in relief of a struggling Cam Ward, but, due to a statistical quirk, was saddled with the loss. Calgary's seventh goal, in an eventual 7-6 win, was scored with Murphy on the bench for an extra attacker. Under NHL rules, he becomes the goalie of record in that situation.

Minnesota Wild rookie Matt Hackett, replaced starter Josh Harding 1:11 into the game. Hackett allowed no goals and picked up a win in his unexpected debut. (Photo: Getty Images)
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in NHL history a goaltender suffered his first loss before he allowed his first goal.

Here is how it happened:

A 2008 sixth-round pick, Murphy had been recalled from AHL Charlotte earlier in the day to replace backup Brian Boucher, who suffered a lower-body injury in practice Monday. It was expected Murphy, 22, would be a security blanket in case the workhorse Ward got hurt.

But when Ward allowed Mikael Backlund's goal at 10:57 of the third period to put the Hurricanes down 6-3, coach Kirk Muller pulled Ward and inserted Murphy. The move seemed to spark the Hurricanes, who got a goal from Eric Staal to make it 6-4 with 6:18 left.

Carolina continued to push to get closer, and Muller pulled Murphy for an extra attacker as time ticked down. However, Jarome Iginla's empty-net goal made it 7-4 with 1:09 left, seemingly ending the Hurricanes' hopes.

Murphy returned to the net, and with 60 seconds left stopped his first NHL shot, a 58-foot slap shot by Tim Jackman. Moments later, after Chad LaRose scored to make it 7-5, Murphy stopped a Blake Comeau slap shot.

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It would be the final piece of rubber he'd see that night, as Staal's goal with five seconds left closed the scoring.

So without allowing a goal, Murphy was saddled with the loss.

Now, back to the story with the happier ending:

Hackett, who was recalled Dec. 3 with Niklas Backstrom nursing a groin injury, was expected to spend Tuesday watching Harding, the same as he did Sunday's win against Anaheim.

That all changed in a hurry.

"I'm still shaking," Hackett told reporters after the game. "I was shaking the whole time. It's my dream to play in the NHL, and to get my first win like that, it's the best feeling in the world."

He didn't have much time to think about what was going on, as the Sharks, who led 1-0 when Hackett entered, fired 15 first-period shots on the rookie -- after putting eight on Harding. Hackett stopped everything he saw, and helped kill a four-minute San Jose power play.

"I didn't have too much time to get nervous," Hackett said. "I just jumped in there and tried to stop pucks. It was fun."

Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored later in the first to put the Wild ahead, and Hackett did the rest. He stopped 10 shots in the second and nine more in the third to pick up the victory.

"Really impressive," said Wild coach Mike Yeo, who knows just how good Hackett can be after the pair went to the Calder Cup Finals last season with the Wild's AHL team, the Houston Aeros. "It's not an easy game to go in and play your first game against, it's not an easy situation to go and play your first game. But he was in control all night."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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