Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch scored early in the third period of Game 5 against the Blackhawks to give Vegas a 4-3 lead. He thought he’d scored the insurance marker as well, but the goal didn’t stand.
Tuch’s second goal of the game was wiped out thanks to a Coach’s Challenge for goaltender interference from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Vegas forward Reilly Smith carried the puck deep as Nick Cousins headed to the net. He set up shop in the blue paint, effectively blocking out Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford and leaving Tuch with a wide open net. Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy did a good job not to push Cousins into the goaltender.
Referees Dan O’Rourke and Marc Joannette reviewed the play with the NHL’s Situation Room. After a quick look, the goal was waved off due to incidental contact.
Rule 69 covers goaltender interference. Here are the relevant parts:
The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, 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 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 disallowed.
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.
As the contact was deemed incidental, no penalty was called on the play.
From the NHL:
It was determined that Vegas’ Nick Cousins had a significant presence in the crease and made incidental contact with goaltender Corey Crawford that impaired his ability to play his position prior to Alex Tuch’s goal.
The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1, which states in part, “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.”
Chicago went 2-for-2 on offside challenges in the regular season, but were 0-for-1 on goaltender interference. They got this one right. Nice work by Chicago video coach Matt Meacham.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, it wasn’t enough. Though the successful challenge kept the Knights’ lead to one, Chicago was unable to tie it up.
The Blackhawks lost the game 4-3, ending their run in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff as they dropped the series four games to one.