The Situation Room confirmed no goaltender interference on a Tampa Bay Lightning goal in Game 1 against the Florida Panthers.

Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli was positioned at the top of the crease when Nikita Kucherov blasted the puck past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.  Cirelli appeared to bump the netminder slightly just prior to the goal.

The horn sounded. The challenge came down just as quickly.  With the goal giving Tampa a 3-1 lead with just over five minutes to play, this one was huge.



The NHL’s Situation Room provided their official ruling:

Video review determined incidental contact between Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli and Florida’s goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky occurred in the white ice and, therefore, did not constitute goaltender interference. The decision was made in accordance with rule 69.1, which states in part, “Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease…”

The critical part of the NHL’s decision was where the contact took place.  Here’s the relevant portions of Rule 69:

If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal
will be disallowed.

The contact was incidental; there was no deliberate attempt at body contact on the play.  The only factor, then, is was it in the crease?


The rule is a bit unclear in defining what they mean when a goaltender is ‘in his goal crease’. In this case, his skates and the majority of his body were in the crease. The problem was that Bobrovksy’s head appeared to be outside of the goal crease.  That was the crux of the NHL’s ruling.

With Cirelli outside of the crease, making contact with Bobrosky’s head outside of the crease, and the contact deemed incidental, it’s a good goal.

Retired referee Kerry Fraser disagreed with the call.

Shocked?  On a goaltender interference call?  Never!

The Panthers went 3-for-3 on coach’s challenges in the regular season. This is their first failed challenge since February 4, 2021, and their first incorrect challenge for goaltender interference since December 31, 2019.  Florida had been correct on their previous four interference challenges.

Florida was assessed a minor penalty for delay of game for the failed challenge.  Tampa scored on the ensuing power play.

Referees for the game were Kelly Sutherland (#11) and Jon McIsaac (#2); linesmen were Matt MacPherson (#83) and David Brisebois (#96).