The Toronto Maple Leafs saw their game-tying goal against the Arizona Coyotes wiped out after the NHL’s Situation Room reviewed the play for a hand pass.
Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly gloved the puck out of the air. As he attempted to play it, he was checked by Arizona’s Clayton Keller. Toronto’s Mitch Marner was the next to touch the puck, moving it down low to John Tavares who set up Alex Kerfoot for the goal.
The NHL’s Situation Room automatically reviews plays eligible for a Coach’s Challenge at any point in overtime or in the final minute of regulation. This includes goaltender interference, offside, or potential missed stoppages – including hand passes.
From Rule 79:
A player shall be permitted to stop or “bat” a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official.
Referee Kelly Sutherland broken the bad news to the home crowd. No goal on the play.
“We thought that the call could have gone our way, or at the very least was not conclusive enough to overturn it,” said Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe.
The NHL’s Situation Room — not the on-ice officials — makes the final decision on Coach’s Challenges. This call came down from upstairs, not from ice-level.
Here’s the official explanation from the league:
The Situation Room determined that Morgan Rielly batted the puck with his hand inside the attacking zone before teammate Mitchell Marner subsequently gained possession and control. According to Rule 79.1, a player may bat a puck in the air with his open hand, “unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official.”
In this case, it was deemed that Marner was the first player to gain possession and control of the puck after Rielly batted it with his hand.
Marner thought the loose puck was fair game.
“Saw [Rielly] bat it down. Saw Keller get at least a foot on it, so I thought it was a live puck,” said Marner. “So, I play it. I guess I gotta look more into the rules and leave it next time for [Rielly].”
Arizona – with the score reverted to 3-2 – tacked on an empty-netter for a 4-2 victory.
“It’s tough,” Rielly said. “[I was] just trying to keep the puck in. It’s a play that happens all the time, unfortunately, it didn’t go our way.”
Referees for the game were Kelly Sutherland (#11) and Garrett Rank (#7); linesmen were Justin Johnson (#57) and Kyle Flemington (#55).