The NHL’s Situation Room confirmed the call on the ice that disallowed a Canadiens goal, ruling that Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher interfered with Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Maxime Lagace on the play.
The potential goal, scored 6:09 into the second period, would give Montreal a 3-2 lead. Gallagher cut to the slot, flipping the puck at the Lightning goaltender. The puck rebounded off the goalie, hitting Gallagher in the body and bouncing into the net.
Referee Dean Morton immediately waved off the goal.
Montreal disagreed. Head coach Dominique Ducharme challenged the ruling, hoping to get his club’s goal on the board.
The NHL’s first action was to confirm the legality of the goal. The puck deflected off Gallagher’s body, resulting in what would be a legally scored goal. From Rule 78.4:
If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. The player who deflected the puck shall be credited with the goal.
That review, however, does not consider goaltender interference. That’s where the Habs’ Coach’s Challenge came in, disputing the goaltender interference call on the ice. From rule 69.1:
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 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.
Gallagher was guided along the top of the crease by Katchouk. There was minor contact between the Montreal winger and the goaltender’s blocker — not enough, though, to disallow the goal.
The issue was with Gallagher’s stick – something the Situation Room apparently felt was independent of Katchouk’s contact.
From Rule 69.7:
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.
Katchouk may have been responsible for contact, but he – in the league’s opinion – was not responsible for Gallagher’s stick pushing against Lagace. It was that contact that cleared the way for the puck to cross the goal line.
After the review, referee Dean Morton announced the ruling.
“After Coach’s Challenge review initiated by Montreal,” said Morton, “it was determined that there was goaltender interference, therefore it’s no goal.”
Montreal was assessed a minor penalty for delay of game for the failed challenge.
“I think it’s absolutely the right call,” said ESPN NHL rules analyst Dave Jackson, an NHL referee from 1990-2018. “What the referee saw there was Gallagher’s stick pushing the goaltender’s pad across the goal line before the puck, and then the puck trickled in afterward. There’s no problem with the contact with the defenseman. Gallagher’s staying out of the crease. But he makes contact with the pad and pushes it into the net. The puck follows afterwards. I believe the right call was made. ”
Retired referee Kerry Fraser agreed.
“Gallagher’s push on goal pad should negate [the] Montreal goal,” tweeted Fraser. “That was a complete waste of a challenge and a needless minor penalty taken by the Habs. Video coach for Montreal needs to be more calculated.”
Montreal would eventually take the lead, going up 4-3 midway through the third period. Tampa scored the game-tying goal with 20 seconds remaining before going on to win the game in overtime.
Referees for the game were Dan O’Rourke and Dean Morton. Linesmen were David Brisebois and Matt MacPherson.