Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point found himself on the wrong end of a goaltender interference call in Game 2 against the New York Islanders.
The Bolts winger was shoved into goaltender Semyon Varlamov by Isles defenseman Adam Pelech. Both teams came together in a post-whistle scrum as Point headed off for goaltender interference. The Islanders ended up scoring on the power play.
Now, thanks to the NHL’s Quest for the Cup, we have a little insight into the call from referee Dan O’Rourke:
“I got him! 21 [Point] is going! Guys, you got a power play. Yes, I’m for real!”
O’Rourke then explained the call to Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and New York’s Cal Clutterbuck.
“Steven, I know he gets pushed! Hey! Listen!”
“These are two top-end goaltenders and we want to protect those guys, alright, and I don’t think that’s a good play.”
Take a listen:
— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) June 19, 2021
While we agree with O’Rourke on the importance of protecting goaltenders, it wasn’t Point that Varlamov needed to be protected from — it was his own teammate.
Rule 69.1 specifically calls out an attacking player getting pushed into a goalie.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
It’s hard to say that Point didn’t make a reasonable effort to avoid contact. The hit came so close to the crease, there was little room – and less time – for Point to change his course.
If anything, Pelech may have deserved a call for interference on Point by taking him out of the play. He just happened to do so by also taking out his own goaltender.
Not sure what it’ll take to get defending players to stop shoving players into their own goalies, since even the prospect of injuring your own goalkeeper hasn’t prevented defensemen from doing the ol’ crease-crashing cross-check.
Some penalties for doing so just might help.