The Washington Capitals, trailing the Carolina Hurricanes by a goal late in Game 6, were battling hard to tie the game. When Alexander Ovechkin pounced on a rebound in the crease, pushing the puck over the line, they thought they’d evened the score.
Referee Kyle Rehman, positioned right behind the net, had other opinions. He waved off the goal due to interference.
The Capitals challenged the play, hoping for a second opinion upon further review. Remember, the final call on a Coach’s Challenge comes from the NHL’s Situation Room; no longer do the on-ice officials have the final say on confirming — or overturning — their own calls.
A few minutes later, the NHL handed down their ruling, confirming the call on the ice.
At 10:34 of third period in the Capitals/Hurricanes game, Washington requested a Coach’s Challenge to review the “Interference on the Goalkeeper” decision that resulted in a “no goal” call.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referee, the Situation Room confirmed that Alex Ovechkin interfered with Petr Mrazek by pushing his pad, which caused the puck to enter the net. According to Rule 69.3, “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.”
Therefore, the original call is upheld – no goal Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden challenged the call on the ice. The Caps were 0-for-3 on goaltender interference challenges in the regular season.
“From our angle from the bench it looked like the puck was loose,” Reirden said. “We talked with our video staff and they felt like it was worth a challenge in that situation. That’s not how the league or the referees saw it and that’s a decision they made. But for us we thought the puck was loose. It was still a puck that was in play.”
Ovechkin was frustrated with the call that saw his game-tying goal wiped off the board.
“I saw the puck,” Ovechkin said. “[Mrazek] didn’t get it in control. [Referee Kyle Rehman] didn’t see that, so I don’t know what the referee saw or what the explanation was.”
As the NHL cited in their explanation, Rule 69.3 disallows goals where an attacking player initiates contact with the goalie in the blue paint. That appears to have been Rehman’s call on the ice. As the officials huddled to discuss the call, Rehman can be seen making a push or shoveling gesture to indicate that Mrazek’s pad was pushed by Ovechkin.
The other portion of the NHL Rulebook that comes into play is Rule 69.7:
69.7 Rebounds and Loose Pucks – In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.
In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck by an attacking player after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed. If applicable, appropriate penalties will be assessed. If, however, in the opinion of the Referee, the attacking player was pushed or otherwise fouled by a defending player causing the goalkeeper to be pushed into the net together with the puck, the goal can be permitted.
In the event that the puck is under a player in or around the crease area (deliberately or otherwise), a goal cannot be scored by pushing this player together with the puck into the goal.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik understood the rule, but not necessarily the application, as he felt the loose puck made it fair game.
“If [the goaltender] has it covered, you can’t push him in,” Brooks Orpik said, “But we didn’t think he had it covered and if he doesn’t have it covered usually you can get in there and it is fair game and it is kind of like a rebound.”
Reirden wasn’t clear on the explanation for the no goal, especially as it related to his players challenging for a puck that was loose in the crease.
“As playoffs go on, there’s not a lot of communication between the refs and the coaches as there is during the regular season,” said Reirden after the game. “They made their decision and it really wasn’t up for debate. They don’t have to come and give you a reason why and they did not come to the bench and tell me why.”
While Reirden may not agree with the call, hopefully he understands the league’s rationale behind the decision.