Alexander Ovechkin will inevitably pass countryman Sergei Federov as the all-time leading Russian-born goal scorer in the NHL. He thought he had done so on Saturday.  That is, before the Coach’s Challenge.

Ovechkin’s 484th career goal was waved off after a challenge by Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock required the on-ice officials to take a second look at the play. 

Washington’s Justin Williams drives to the net, making minor contact with goaltender James Reimer outside the crease.  The Caps winger’s momentum carries him into the blue paint, where he appears to be pushed by Toronto’s Byron Froese.  

The official ruling came down from referee Brad Meier.

“In the video review,” said Meier, “there was contact with the goaltender in the blue paint. The goal on the ice is reversed. There’s no goal on the play.”


The Referee determined that Williams interfered with Reimer before the puck entered the net. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Washington Capitals.

“I thought I went to the net and did everything I could to not touch the goalie,” said Caps forward Justin Williams. “I don’t think I was interfering with him when the shot was taken, but it was disallowed.”

Rule 69 covers goaltender interference, saying in section 3:

Brad Meier Reviews Ovechkin's Goal

Referee Brad Meier Reviews Ovechkin’s Goal

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.

If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s
ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. 

If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be

For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.

“Last year, that would be called a goal,” Ovechkin said to “It’s something new for us. I don’t know who’s making the call, the referees or guys from Toronto, but it is what it is. Sometimes it’s a goal, sometimes it’s not. Obviously, it [stinks], but I think it’s OK. You have to think about the game.”

CSN Washington’s Alan May went a bit further in his displeasure:

The Capitals have not had luck with opposing teams’ Coach’s Challenges, having lost two goals – last night’s potential  game-tying goal by Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov’s goal against the Sharks – after the challenge overturned the call on the ice.  Those were both initially called good goals but later waved off for goaltender interference after an additional look at the play by the referees.

“Yeah, I don’t care. I’ll say it. I don’t like it,” Williams told the Washington Post. “I don’t like it at all, not just because we got the short end of the stick tonight. We’ve had three calls go to a review, and I’m not really sure what was the difference in any of them.”

The Caps overcame the lost goal and tied the game in regulation en route to a 3-2 shootout win.

Referees for the game were Brad Meier and Kelly Sutherland. Scott Driscoll and Matt MacPherson worked the lines.