Game 6 between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings was a tight one. Neither team was willing to give an inch. The teams had piled up 20 minutes in penalties over the first 51 minutes of gameplay.
With all those whistles, the most important one might have been the one that didn’t blow.
Referee Chris Lee watched as Robyn Regehr’s point shot was tipped by Justin Williams right under goaltender Alex Stalock. Lee brough his whistle up, but didn’t blow, watching the puck. With his positioning – smartly in front of the goal line and not behind the net – we can presume he saw the puck still loose behind Stalock’s skates. Kings forward Justin Williams whacked at the puck, which trickled across the line for the go-ahead goal:
Since the puck went in the net, the play was automatically reviewed by the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto. This play, though,is not eligible for review. The league confirmed that the puck went in legally, and Lee advised that he had not blown his whistle and was mot making a call for interference or pushing the goaltender.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan, on Williams' jab-in goal: "We got cheated. Simple as that."
— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) April 29, 2014
“I was told that you could see the puck laying behind his feet the whole time,” McLellan said. “That was obviously the turning point.”
@HarrisonMooney I could see the puck from my seat on Williams’ goal. Lee was in the same corner. It was clearly visible to him.
— Spike Coffman (@SpikeC20) April 29, 2014
After the game, Stalock said, “I don’t think the puck goes in if I wasn’t pushed.”
Former referee Kerry Fraser agreed with that assessment, saying: “I would disallow Kings second goal re: [NHL Rule] 69.6. Once Stalock made initial save even though portion of puck became visible to ref from behind. Overriding factor is J. Williams did not put puck into net legally with stick but pushed Stalock backwards with his stick causing momentum and resulting in the puck [crossing the] goal line. This is no different than crashing the net.”
Here’s the applicable portion of Rule 69.9:
If, however, in the opinion of the Referee, the attacking player was pushed or otherwise fouled by a defending player causing the goalkeeper to be pushed into the net together with the puck, the goal can be permitted.
Once the red light came on, the floodgates opened, both in goals – two more by Kopitar 1:15 apart – and penalties. The two clubs ended the night with a combined 98 PIMs. It was a busy night for referees Chris Lee (#28) and Francois St. Laurent (#38).
After the dust settled, the Kings had earned themselves a 4-1 victory, setting the stage for a Game 7 rematch on Wednesday night.
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