It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a tale of two reviews… sort of. While it may have seemed redundant — even frustrating — it worked precisely as designed.
Two separate video reviews were required for a goal by Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi, one confirming the goal, the second waving it off.
Kotkaniemi crashed the net, pushing the rebound of a Joel Armia shot past Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. The red light went on, the referee pointed to the puck in the net, and the NHL’s Situation Room took a second look.
The league’s initial review — initiated by the Situation Room itself — was solely to confirm that the puck crossed the goal line.
Those league-initiated reviews are limited to legality of goals: pucks tipped in by a high stick, pucks kicked in, displaced nets, and whether or not the puck actually crossed the line. Here’s the official wording, from Rule 37:
37.3 Goal Situations Subject to Video Review – The following situations are subject to review by the NHL Situation Room:
(a) Puck crossing the goal line;
(b) Puck in the net prior to the goal frame being dislodged;
(c) Puck in the net prior to (or after) the expiration of time at the end of a period;
(d) With the use of a foot/skate, was a “distinct kicking motion” evident?
(e) Puck deliberately directed, batted, or thrown into the net by an attacking Player by any means (and with any part of his body) other than with his stick;
(f) Puck deflected directly into the net of an On-Ice Official;
(g) Puck struck or deflected into the net with a high-stick, above the height of the crossbar;
(h) Puck entering the net in a proper manner through goal mouth (ensuring puck did not enter net improperly through net meshing or underneath the net frame, etc.);
(i) Puck entering the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result of the play was unaffected by any whistle blown by the Referee upon his losing sight of the puck; and
(j) The legitimacy of all potential goals on Penalty Shot or Shootout attempts to ensure compliance with applicable rules (e.g., double tap, goalkeeper throwing stick, goalkeeper dislodging goal, shooter cradling puck above the normal height of the shoulders, shooter performing illegal spin-o-rama move, skater’s continued forward advancement of puck, goalkeeper leaving crease prior to puck touch at center ice, etc.)
Video replays showed that the puck definitively crossed the line. Review confirmed the goal call on the ice.
Note that the review did not include an evaluation for goaltender interference. While the league automatically checks for that in the final minute of regulation or at any point in overtime, the rest of the time it’s up to the coach to challenge.
With the goal back on the board, that’s exactly what the Maple Leafs did.
Toronto challenged the goal, citing potential goaltender interference from Kotkaniemi. Again, they went to the videotape.
Same room, same reviewers, but different context on this one. Under the specific request initiated via Coach’s Challenge, the league’s Situation Room took a look at the play for goaltender interefence, in consultation with referees Eric Furlatt and Graham Skilliter.
After a few moments, word came down. The call was reversed. No goal.
“I saw the puck, I just felt the pad was still up in the air,” said Kotkaniemi. “In my opinion, I think that was a good goal. I’m not 100% [sure] what the rule is for that, but as long as I’ve been playing, I think that should be called a goal.”
Here’s the official ruling from the NHL:
Video review determined that Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi interfered with Frederik Andersen by pushing his pad, which caused the puck to enter the net. The decision was made in accordance of Rule 69.7, which states in part, “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.”
Kotkaniemi, in attempting to poke the puck in, also made contact with Andersen’s left pad, shoving him backwards.
The NHL got there, but not as quickly as some would have liked. The rule book is very specific in what can be reviewed, under which circumstances, and by whom such reviews can be initiated. Barring a change in the rules, expect to continue to see ‘double reviews’ like this. It’s a second look, but one under a different lens. That’s exactly how the league designed it.
Until — or unless — that changes, not all reviews are equal.