After the net came crashing down on Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom, Capitals defenseman John Carlson scored to tie the game on a goal Vancouver felt shouldn’t have counted.
The initial call on the ice, made by second-year full-time referee Kendrick Nicholson, was a goal. The officials – referee Kevin Pollock and linesmen Brad Kovachik and Greg Devorski – conferred with Nicholson to discuss the play.
Technically speaking, the net was never considered dislodged. It’s all about the pegs.
From Rule 78.4:
A goal shall be scored when the puck shall have been put between the goal posts by the stick of a player of the attacking side, from in front and below the crossbar, and entirely across a red line the width of the diameter of the goal posts drawn on the ice from one goal post to the other with the goal frame in its proper position.
The goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice. The flexible pegs could be bent, but as long as at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still in the hole in the ice and the goal post, the goal frame shall be deemed to be in its proper position. The goal frame could be raised somewhat on one post (or both), but as long as the flexible pegs are still in contact with the holes in the ice and the goal posts, the goal frame shall not be deemed to be displaced.
Rule 78.5 reconfirms the interpretation of a displaced net:
The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the goal.
Clearly, under the terms of the NHL rulebook, the goal was not displaced at the time of the goal.
Simply put, as long as the net is on the pegs and the puck goes between the posts, the position of the back of the net has absolutely no bearing on the legitimacy of the goal.
The only other possible rule to consider — which Canucks head coach Travis Green felt may be in play, as he later unsuccessfully challenged the goal — is Rule 69, Interference on the Goalkeeper. There are two situations where a goal will be disallowed for goaltender interference, per 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.
No contact was made between the goaltender and an attacking player. The only contact came between Markstrom and the net, which defenseman Michael Del Zotto was holding up. Rather than pushing it back down to the ice, Del Zotto appeared to be holding it up, anticipating a whistle.
The attacking player, Nicklas Backstrom, did not appear to push Vancouver’s Nic Dowd into the goal. Unfortunately for the Canucks, this is no different than if a defending player accidentally interfered with his own goalie by bumping him in the crease.
No net displacement. No interference.
Good goal, Caps. Good call, ref.