You never want a game to be decided by a whistle. It’s even worse when your entire season comes to an end because of one.
Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, a quick whistle from referee Chris Lee cost them the game-tying goal in an eventual 2-0 Canadiens win that saw the Sens eliminated from the postseason.
With 13:05 to go in the second period, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau appeared to score on the rebound of a Mark Borowiecki shot. Before Pageau could even raise his arms to celebrate, referee Chris Lee had already waved off the potential game-tying goal.
“It was just bad puck luck,” said Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron about the disallowed goal.
Lee was positioned on the far side of the ice, above the goal line, when he lost sight of the puck after Price’s save.
Referee Kerry Fraser weighed in:
From Chris Lee's position and Carey Price's posture the referee would not suspect that the puck was loose.
— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) April 26, 2015
Tthere’s simply no way Lee could’ve seen the puck was loose on the far side of Price’s body from his vantage point on the opposite side of the ice.
Ineligible For Review
While the NHL expanded video replay this season, this particular goal must be left to the call made by the officials on the ice. Rule 38.4 explains:
(viii) The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g. to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). […] This would also include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play).
If the whistle had blown while the puck was still in motion – on a continuous play – and the original shot trickled in, review would allow that goal to stand. Unfortunately for the Senators, Pageau’s shot came just after Lee had blown the play dead. Once the whistle blows, any subsequent actions, including shots on goal, have to be disallowed.
Missed Power Play Opportunities
For all their frustration with the disallowed goal, Sens fans should also look at their club’s missed power play opportunities in Game 6. The Canadiens were whistled for four penalties, while the Sens were called for just one. Ottawa went 0-for-4 on the power play. They had a prime opportunity to tie the game when referee Brad Watson called Montreal’s Jacob De La Rose for tripping with just over three minutes to play, but were unable to convert.
It’s a tough break for the Senators. In a game of bounces with little margin for error, though, teams need to not let the game come down to one call.