The Pittsburgh Penguins thought they had cut the Capitals’ lead to one during Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.  The goal never counted, though, as it was initially waved off and there was no conclusive evidence that the puck crossed the goal line.

“From my angle,” said Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist, “it looked in.”

Referee Chris Rooney waved off the goal on the ice.  Having glided back along the goal line to avoid the play, Rooney was nearly along the boards for Hornqvist’s stuff-in, giving him less-than-optimal sightlines on the puck.

The NHL’s Situation Room had a similar problem. Despite multiple angles, they could not find one that conclusively confirmed that the puck had completely crossed the goal line.

“I don’t know the angles that they had,” said Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. “But the one I saw it had to be a goal.”



From the NHL:

At 9:03 of the third period in the Penguins/Capitals game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Washington net. Video review determined that there were no definitive replays which showed that the puck completely crossed the Washington goal line. Therefore, the Referee’s call on the ice stands – no goal Pittsburgh.

“It’s 100 percent a goal,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you blow it up, you can see the white. It’s behind the post. That’s how we saw it. We respectfully disagree with the league. But that’s not anything we can control.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby wasn’t so sure.

“I never saw it cross the line,” Holtby said. “I saw it pinch kind of between my pad and the post. I tried to bring my leg around to keep it out. They wouldn’t show a replay or anything up here so I really have no clue what happened.”

As we’ve seen before, camera angles can be tricky thanks to the parallax effect, which gives a different appearance based on the angle at which you’ve viewing the objects. Keep in mind that the goal line is not on the ice, but painted beneath the top layer, which is up to 1.25″ thick.  Here’s an example:


The goal – had it counted – would have been huge, as it would’ve left the Pens trailing by one with nearly half a period to play. Instead, the Caps held on, later posting an empty-net goal for a 4-1 win.  The best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1.

While the NHL is working on player tracking – possibly as soon as 2019 – the league would be better served by putting that time and money into puck tracking technology. Soccer and tennis have the luxury of unobstructed views of the ball, permitting them to use cameras to track goals and whether or not a shot was over the line. Hockey will need something more advanced. Something admittedly more expensive. Something much more important to the game than player tracking.