The Pens backup is now the highest-scoring AHL goaltender ever.
Last week was a busy one for Penguins backup netminder Alex Nedeljkovic.
On Friday, he made his debut with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday in a 4-2 win over the Providence Bruins.
Nedeljkovic made 17 saves and topped off the night with an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
GOALIE GOAL GOALIE GOAL GOALIE GOAL— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) November 18, 2023
NED PUTS IT AWAY pic.twitter.com/DA7ZnArHO9
Two days later Nedeljkovic was perfect on 33 shots, including four on the league top-10 Golden Knights power play, to blank Vegas in a 3-0 Sunday victory.
It was a historic three days for Nedeljkovic in his return from a hand injury.
Nedeljkovic is the 14th goaltender in Penguins history to make at least 38 saves in a shutout, per Statmuse. The most recent before his victory was Casey DeSmith, who recorded an all-time franchise shutout high of 52 saves against the Boston Bruins on April 21, 2022.
Nedeljkovic is also only the third Penguins goaltender to score a minor-league goal, per Bob Grove. Tristan Jarry scored against the Springfield Thunderbirds in November 2018, and Michael Plasse, before backstopping the 1974-75 and 1975-76 Pittsburgh Penguins, became the first professional goaltender in hockey history to score a goal in the CHL in 1971.
This wasn’t Nedeljkovic’s first minor-league tally. It’s his third, and his second in the AHL, making him the first goaltender in AHL history to score multiple times.
Nedeljkovic’s first AHL goal came while he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization and playing for the Charlotte Checkers. He scored against the Hartford Wolf Pack in March 2018.
Nedeljkovic also scored in the ECHL while playing for the Florida Everblades.
He notched the tally as a 19-year-old in 2016 during a victory over the Atlanta Gladiators. The score marked was the 12th goal by an ECHL goalie in 29 years of league history.
Nedeljkovic said following that ECHL tally that he had “always wanted to score a goal,” per Ryan Toohey of the Fort Myers News-Press.
“Growing up, I would always watch guys like Brodeur and Marty Turco – who could play the puck extremely well – and seeing them score a goal,” Nedeljkovic said back in January 2017. “To get a chance to do it myself in a game was pretty incredible. I tried before in juniors, but unfortunately my aim wasn’t as good then, and the puck ended up in the corner both times.”
“There’s not many chances you’ll get in your career to do it,” he added.
Six years later, Nedeljkovic now has three professional goals.
Even more importantly, he has his first shutout as a Penguin— and that will be important for the team even more than earning them a win against one of the best teams in the NHL.
It also means Tristan Jarry might feel some pressure to protect his spot in the crease.
The Pens could badly use some increased consistency from their starter, has recorded three shutouts and four full games with a sub-.900 save percentage so far this season. Maybe the rise of Nedeljkovic is what it will take to help spark that.