Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron deflected Milan Lucic’s point shot, sending it over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder and into the net, giving the Bruins a 3-2 overtime victory. Or did he?
Referee Francis Charron had his arms up, indicating that the play would be reviewed. After conferring with the rest of the on-ice crew, Charron pointed to center ice to indicate a good goal.
Then he went to check in with the Situation Room. After some deliberation, the official ruling was handed down. Charron headed to center ice to deliver the news:
“After the review, it was determined that the puck hit the stick below the crossbar. We have a good goal.”
The Bruins celebrated, the crowd booed, and 18,650 fans went home frustrated.
Only, that’s not exactly the official ruling given by the league:
At 2:43 of overtime in the Boston Bruins/Pittsburgh Penguins game, video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck hit glove or stick before entering the Pittsburgh net. Both the glove and stick were at or below the height of the crossbar.
The referee’s call on the ice was a good goal. Because video review was inconclusive, the referee’s call on the ice stands. Good goal Boston.
That’s right – the review was inconclusive. So why was Charron’s explanation different?
The official ruling said that the glove and stick were below the crossbar, but that the review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck hit either. Perhaps it was just a matter of playing telephone, and that the message was partially lost on its way to ice level. The ruling did say that the stick was below the crossbar, as in Charron’s on-ice explanation. It didn’t, however, say that their was anything conclusive, or that they had evidence of the puck actually making contact with Bergeron’s stick.
(It’s interesting to note, though, that the goal remains credited to Bergeron. If he didn’t touch it, why wouldn’t it be awarded to Lucic, who took the initial shot?)
“I thought it was inconclusive and they called it a good goal on the ice,” said Bergeron, “so usually when that’s what happens, it’s hard to turn back. I was pretty confident it was below the crossbar.”
Boston’s head coach wasn’t so sure.
Julien laughed about the angles of the goal they showed at Consol. Said they didn't look good.
— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) January 8, 2015
They weren’t great, as replay angles for crossbar-height determination never are. They were poor enough to render the review inconclusive, which was enough for the Bruins to escape with a well-needed overtime win.
Updated: Over on Reddit’s r/hockey, user kmhines88 tracked down the single frame where the puck appeared to make contact with Bergeron’s stick. Based on the position of his arms, that supports the league’s statement that the stick was below the crossbar at the time — even if the NHL didn’t confirm that contact was made.
(GIF via @CrzyCanucklehed)