THW’s Goalie News: Halak, Kahkonen & More

Tuesday was another interesting night across the National Hockey League. We had one of the best backups in the game on display in Boston, while two talented rookies faced off against each other in South Florida. Plus, we take a fun look back to a time when the rules made for some very unique goaltending moves.

Halak Shines in his 500th Game

On Monday, we named the Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak the Backup of the Week for winning both of his starts last week. His success carried over into Tuesday night’s start versus the Carolina Hurricanes

Playing in his 500th career NHL game, Halak made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season. It was the 49th shutout of his career, which his fifth among all active goaltenders. Only Henrik Lundqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick have more. Halak currently has two more shutouts than Tuukka Rask, the man he backs up in Boston.

Jaroslav Halak Boston Bruins
Halak has been one of the best backups this season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins used a pair of third-period goals, just over a minute apart, from Charlie Coyle and David Krejci to extend their point streak to 12 straight games.

“I’m just glad that I’m part of this group because it’s a special group,” Halak said during his postgame scrum with the media. “We are so close, and we keep proving it on the ice. We stick to the game plan for 60 minutes. Tonight we did, and for the most part, we do. And we believe that even if it’s a tie game or we are down by one or so, we still believe that we can come back and win.”

The Bruins are the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss on home ice as they improved to 12-0-4 at the TD Garden this season.

Rookies Make Their Mark in Florida

Tuesday night’s game between the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers provided us with some intriguing tidbits. The Wild was a team left for dead just a couple of weeks ago. They were at the bottom of the Central Division standings and All-Star goaltender Devan Dubnyk had taken a leave absence to be with his wife, Jenn, while she deals with a medical condition.

For whatever reasons, things have been clicking for the Wild, of late, as they rallied to beat the Panthers 4-2 last night to win their fourth game in a row and extend their point streak to 10 games. Rookie goaltender Kappo Kahkonen has been showing fans in Minnesota what those in Iowa have known since the beginning of last season; he is a very goaltender.

Kaapo Kahkonen Minnesota Wild
Kahkonen has been impressive in his first two NHL starts. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After winning his NHL debut at the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 26, Kahkonen made 44 saves in his second start. He even came close to scoring an empty-net goal, but his late-game shot from his own crease went just wide of the Panthers’ net.

His 44 saves set a Wild franchise record for the most made by a rookie goaltender; beating the old mark of 42 set by Matt Hackett in 2011.

Kahkohen also became the fifth goaltender in Wild history to earn wins his both of his first two career appearances joining Hackett, Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom and Anton Khudobin.

On the other side of the ice, another rookie making his second career start, Chris Driedger, manned the crease for the Panthers. Driedger shutout the Nashville Predators in his NHL debut on Nov. 30 and did not give up a goal until Jason Zucker snuck one by him at the 9:26 mark of the second period.

Driedger’s shutout streak of 89:26 was the eighth-longest mark to any goaltender at the start of his career. He eclipsed Jordan Binnington’s streak of 89:02 that he set when he made his debut with the St. Louis Blues last January.

Hall of Fame Forward’s Lone Appearance in Goal

One of my favorite aspects of the NHL is its long and storied history. It is never hard to find an interesting anniversary or story while doing daily research. I stumbled across a very unique stat earlier this morning that is perfect for the Goalie News.

Hall of Famer Jack Darragh was born on this date back in 1890. He was one of the true pioneers of the game playing for the original Ottawa Senators in the NHL and its predecessor, the National Hockey Association.

Darragh was part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams in Ottawa, bringing home the greatest trophy in sports in 1911, 1920, 1921 and 1923. The right-winger made his name for himself by scoring clutch goals. In the 1920 Stanley Cup Final versus the Seattle Metropolitans, he scored all three game-winning goals. He had the series-clinching goal, the following season, in the 1921 Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Millionaires.

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So why are we talking about a forward in a goaltending column? I’m glad you asked! Darragh made one appearance in goal during the 1919-20 season. On Jan. 24, 1920, he replaced the penalized Clint Benedict during a 5-3 loss to the Toronto St. Pats.

During this time, goaltenders had to serve their own penalties and a player was assigned to take their place between the pipes. Darragh did not give up a goal in his only two minutes as an NHL goaltender.

Could you imagine if this rule was still in place today? How much fun would it be to see a player like Patrick Kane have to play goal while Corey Crawford sat in the penalty box?