During his time with the Philadelphia Flyers, goalie Ron Hextall said any time he got the puck when his team was killing a penalty, he looked to shoot it out of the zone through the middle of the ice.
And in the third period of Game 5 of the 1989 Patrick Division Semifinals against the Washington Capitals on April 11, 1989, he made history doing just that.
The Flyers and Capitals were tied at 2-2 entering Game 5 of their best-of-7 series at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Washington took a 5-4 lead on Calle Johansson's goal at 5:35 of the third. But Philadelphia scored three straight goals, including one by defenseman Kjell Samuelsson at 15:32 that put them ahead 7-5.
But when Flyers defenseman Jeff Chychrun was called for cross-checking at 17:27, the Capitals went on the attack. With 1:15 remaining, Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens carried the puck up the ice as goaltender Pete Peeters went to the bench for an extra attacker. Stevens crossed center ice and tried to rim the puck around the end boards, but Hextall skated out to intercept it.
Video: Memories: Hextall scores as a goalie in the playoffs
"I used to move the puck a fair amount on our penalty kill," Hextall said. "I certainly didn't have the intent of scoring a goal. But once Stevens wrapped the puck around, obviously at that point I'm going to go through the middle anyway so I might as well try and score."
Hextall cradled the puck to the left of the goal and shot it high in the air. The puck bounced just short of the Capitals blue line and skidded straight into the net.
The unassisted shorthanded goal came at 18:58 of the third period and was the last score in the Flyers' 8-5 victory.
It was the first time a goaltender had shot the puck and scored in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. Two years earlier, Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to shoot and score in a regular-season game, when he did it against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 8, 1987.
"The first one, my teammates made such a big deal about it, which was great," Hextall said. "Playoff goal, the focus was so much on winning the game and the fact that we won the game, as it should have been. It was a good feeling but it was just one more little thing in a good win for us."
Two days later at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, the Flyers won 4-3 to close the series.
Hextall, now in his third season as general manager of the Flyers, said teammate Pelle Eklund retrieved the history-making puck for him, which he said is in a box in his house. For him, the series victory was more important than his goal, but the memory of the goal that sticks with him is the reaction of his teammates.
"When you're playing a team sport, individual accomplishments or acts don't really mean that much unless your teammates are on board and they were clearly on board," Hextall said. "They were excited. That always feels good. Your focus is just being part of the team and that was my focus. But it certainly does feel good when your teammates are excited."