The Chicago Blackhawks thought they’d taken a 2-0 lead over the Kings thanks to a great individual effort from Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. He drove hard to the net, crashing into netminder Jonathan Quick. The puck caromed off the skate of defenseman Slava Voynov and into the net.

The red light came on and the horn sounded. The United Center crowd roared as Chelsea Dagger blared over the sound system. Referee Marc Joannette pointed to the net, signaling a goal.

The officials – referees Joannette and Kevin Pollock, along with linesmen Scott Driscoll and Steve Miller – discussed the play. After appearing to consult with the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto, the goal was waved off. The official word given on the ice was:  “The goal has been disallowed. Contact was made with the goaltender prior to the puck crossing the goal line.”

So what really happened on the play? Here’s our break down:

Marc Joannette saw the puck go in

From his position behind the net, Joannette clearly saw the puck cross the goal line. He also would’ve seen the collision between Toews and Quick. From his vantage point, coming around from the far side of the net, he might not have been able to tell whether Toews was pushed in.

Kevin Pollock had a better angle, as the trailing official, to watch Toews drive into the crease. After conferring with his on-ice crew, Joannette came to the conclusion that the goal should not count due to goaltender interference.

Video review ruled the puck entered the net legally

The NHL’s Situation Room reviews the play any time the puck crosses the goal line. Regardless of the call on the ice, the team in Toronto had already queued up the play to take another look. They called down to the arena to advise based on the criteria of review-eligible items. In this case, they were likely looking to see if Toews kicked the puck into the net.

Of the review-eligible plays spelled out in Rule 38.4, they would’ve been looking for one of three situations:

  • Did the puck enter the net before contact between Toews and Quick?  (More on this below)
  • Was the puck kicked in by Toews?
  • Was there anything else that would prevent this from being a legitimate, ‘good hockey goal’ (e.g. puck through the mesh, under the net, etc.)

After clearly seeing the puck deflect off of Voynov, the Situation Room would’ve called it a good goal from their standpoint.  (Rule 78.4: A goal shall be scored if the puck is put into the goal in any way by a player of the defending side.)

If this was a GIF, you'd surely be able to read his lips -- even behind that killer 'stache

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was not pleased with the call

Goaltender interference is not able to be reviewed and is up to the on-ice officials.

With the Situation Room having seen the puck enter the net legally, the only issue was that of goaltender interference. Based on the lengthy conversation between the referees at center ice, it appears that Pollock assisted Joannette with making the determination that Toews was responsible for making incidental contact with the goaltender, preventing Quick from being able to stop the puck.

Rule 69.1: Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

The call wasn’t changed by video review — in this case, the review itself was unnecessary — but it is part of the process to ensure a good hockey goal. The order of events, though, didn’t necessarily make that clear to fans.

Incidental interference is not a penalty

So why was there no penalty on Toews? There doesn’t need to be. A goal can be disallowed for incidental goaltender interference that is not deserving of a penalty.

Rule 69.3: Contact Inside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

It’s apparent that Toews didn’t deliberately run the goaltender, so no penalty was called on the play.


Referees Marc Joannette and Kevin Pollock discuss the play

The NHL’s official ruling

From the league:  

At 3:22 of the second period in the Los Angeles Kings/Chicago Blackhawks game, the referee consulted video review to see if Jonathan Toews‘ initial shot entered the Los Angeles net. It was determined Toews’ initial shot did not enter the net.

The referee’s original call on the ice was “good goal” but a discussion between the on-ice officials resulted in a “no goal” decision because Toews made incidental contact with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick before the puck crossed the goal line. This is not a reviewable play therefore the decision on the ice stands – no goal and no penalty. 

The officials were looking for confirmation on timing – whether the puck was in before contact was made. Aside from that, the Situation Room was unable to provide anything further than advising that – within the realms of what they can review – it was a good goal.  The decision went back to ice-level.

Keep in mind, while Joannette initially indicated it was a goal, the officials changed the call on the ice after a lengthy discussion.

“I didn’t really see how the puck went in, I just took it to the net and kind of lost it when I got to the short post,” Toews said. “Obviously, the puck was in, the guys were celebrating, ” Toews said via ESPN. “When it comes down to it, it was disappointing because of how the play was called on the ice and the fact that it was non-reviewable.”

Though the play may have been a bit confusing, the officials followed their procedure to the letter. That said, it’s not perfect, and on Sunday, it wasn’t exactly clear to those watching what was going on.

Ultimately, the on-ice officials determined that the goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference, which looked like the right call.   If you want to argue the call, go right ahead, but it’s their call to make, and – at least procedurally – they got it right.

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