Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin leveled New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist midway through the first period of Thursday night’s game.
Lundqvist went to the locker room for evaluation. Eakin hit the showers, having received a major for charging and a game misconduct.
Though he missed 5:31 of action, Lundqvist was able to return to the game following a checkup with the medical staff.
Interference with the goaltender is addressed via Rule 69.2:
In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate).
In this case, the call was charging, which is Rule 42:
A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.
Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
(That last paragraph is also referenced in Rule 69.4 – Interference on the Goalkeeper)
It’s obvious Eakin made no attempt at all, let a lone a reasonable one, to avoid contact. He chose to deliver the check, driving his shoulder through the goaltender.
Referee Eric Furlatt made the right call by handing out a major penalty based on the degree of violence of the check, which automatically requires a game misconduct.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will certainly be reviewing the hit. Will they levy additional discipline on Eakin?