The Chicago Blackhawks were sure it was offside.

They were certain that the go-ahead goal by Minnesota’s Chris Stewart would be waved off once the officials took a second look.  Wild forward Jason Zucker clearly preceded the puck into the zone on a two-on-one that led to the tally.

With the controversial goal putting the Wild up by one midway through the third, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville issued his challenge.  A change to the NHL rules for the 2017-18 season meant that the club’s timeout was no longer at risk for an offside challenge. An unsuccessful review would now result in a minor penalty for delay of game.

After review by linesmen Shandor Alphonso and Bryan Pancich with assistance from the NHL’s Situation Room, the goal stood.  The penalty was assessed. Minnesota scored again on the ensuing power play.  In a span of 1:57, the Hawks found themselves down by two – a gap they would not be able to close.

“One play cost the whole game,” Quenneville said.

 

 

There’s no question Zucker was in the zone ahead of the puck.  The problem, at least from the Blackhawks’ perspective, was how the puck got there.

There’s two portions of Rule 83 that come into play:

If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.

When a defending player propels the puck out of his defending zone and the puck clearly rebounds off a defending player in the neutral zone back in to the defending zone, all attacking players are eligible to play the puck.

 

The puck was initially passed toward the defensive end by one of the Blackhawks.  While in the neutral zone, it caromed off the skate of defenseman Brent Seabook and over the line.

“I still don’t think it should have been a goal,” Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune after the game.

“He didn’t carry it and didn’t have possession, so I disagree with the rule,” Quenneville said. “We brought it [into the zone], but you have to have control, possession of it.”

Quenneville’s interpretation is correct when an offensive player is carrying the puck into the zone. A player is legally permitted to enter the zone ahead of the puck provided he has possession and control.  That standard does not necessarily apply to defensive players moving the puck into their defensive zone.  There’s no formal definition in the rule book as to what constitutes a pass, so the only consideration was whether the puck movement was legal, which it was, as opposed to hand pass or a puck played with a high stick.  The ‘deflection’ portion of the rule seems to support the interpretation applied by the officials in this case.

 

 

From the NHL:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that the actions of Chicago’s Brent Seabrook caused the puck to enter the attacking zone and the call on the ice was upheld – good goal Minnesota Wild.

The decision was made in accordance with Rule 83.1 which states, in part, that “If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.”

 

“You can see how that kind of turns the game around a little bit,” said Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman, who scored Chicago’s opening goal.

“They install that [delay-of-game penalty] to make sure you know for sure [before initiating a challenge], but it didn’t work out in our favor tonight.”