The first Coach’s Challenge of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs was a big one.
The New York Rangers saw their late go-ahead goal in Game One against the Pittsburgh Penguins disallowed for goaltender interference.
The initial call on the ice from referees Chris Lee and Frederick L’Ecuyer was that it was a good goal. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan wisely opted to challenge the ruling.
The official work from the NHL:
Video review determined New York’s Kaapo Kakko impaired Casey DeSmith’s ability to play his position in the crease prior to Filip Chytil’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.
That’s not all though. There is another portion of Rule 69.1 that may have come into play.
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 clear that Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin pushed Kakko from behind. What’s not clear is how much Dumoulin’s pressure impacted the Rangers forward’s path.
“Obviously, you want those calls to go your way. The game happens so fast, obviously he’s not trying to run into the goalie or anything. I thought it was a call that could go either way. It is what it is.”
Based on the decision, the NHL’s Situation Room — because it is the Room, not the on-ice officials, who make the final call — felt that either Kakko was going to make contact even without the push or that he did not make a reasonable effort to avoid the collision.
“To me, it was a 50-50 call, and I felt it was going to go against us,” said New York head coach Gerard Gallant. “I can’t argue with that.”
Rangers center Ryan Strome agreed with the ambiguity of the situation.
“Obviously, you want those calls to go your way,” Strome said. “The game happens so fast, obviously [Kakko]’s not trying to run into the goalie or anything. I thought it was a call that could go either way. It is what it is.”
Pittsburgh went on to win the game 4-3 in triple-overtime.
Officials for the game were referees Chris Lee (#28) and Frederick L’Ecuyer (#17) and linesmen Jonny Murray (#95) and Shandor Alphonso (#52).