The Florida Panthers opened the scoring against the Montreal Canadiens with a power play goal from Sam Reinhart – with Matthew Tkachuk clearly in the crease. The Habs challenged the goal, citing goaltender interference on the play.
It appeared to be a slam-dunk challenge. Tkachuk entered the crease on his own and stayed there, his left skate in the blue paint. No defending player prevented him from leaving. His presence, though, prevented Montembeault – just outside the crease – from being able to move freely across the crease.
No goal, right? Wrong.
From the NHL:
The Situation Room supported the Referees’ call on the ice that the contact between Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Montembeault had no bearing on the puck entering the net, therefore it did not constitute goaltender interference.
The NHL rulebook doesn’t allow for a determination to be made as to whether or not the goalie would’ve been able to make a save, just that the attacking player’s presence may prevent him from doing so.
Here’s Rule 69.1:
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; … 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.
Rule 69.3 reaffirms the ruling when an attacking player is in the crease, absent a rebound or loose puck.
If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
The Situation Room’s ruling was that Tkachuk’s presence had no bearing on the puck entering the net.
Are we to believe that they really felt Montembeault was still able to play his position? To move freely within the crease? That his ability to defend his goal was not impaired by Tkachuk’s presence?
Or, did they just say, “Ah, he wasn’t going to make the save anyway”?
If that’s the case… you can’t do that.
Adding insult to injury, the Canadiens received a minor penalty for delay of game on the unsuccessful challenge. The Panthers scored on the man advantage to go up 2-0, en route to a 6-2 win.
We’re guessing Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice, recently $25,000 poorer, wasn’t complaining about this one.