The Pittsburgh Penguins were awarded the game-tying goal against the Detroit Red Wings on a play that required a Situation Room review and a Coach’s Challenge.

Referee Garett Rank initially ruled ‘no goal’ on the deflection in front by Jeff Carter.  One the play was whistled down for a stoppage, the NHL’s Situation Room opted to take a second look.


While the puck was obscured from the overhead angle, a lower-level camera showed the puck – under the left leg of Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic – over the goal line.

“After video review, at 11:19, the puck completely crossed the goal line,” announced referee Garrett Rank. “We have a goal.”

The puck was clearly in.  There’s no disputing that.  The controversy was around how it got there.

Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde immediately challenged the goal, charging that Pittsburgh winger Jason Zucker interfered with the goaltender.  Zucker appeared to push Nedeljkovic’s pad with his stick, causing the puck to cross the line.

“After Coach’s Challenge and video review, the call on the ice is confirmed, there was no goaltender interference,” announced Rank. “The call on the ice stands. It’s a goal.”

Just to clarify, the ‘call’ Rank is referring to is the one that came after the video review which confirmed that a goal was scored on the play. Prior to that, the call on the ice was that there was no goal, and therefore no goaltender interference.

The Wings were assessed a minor penalty for the failed challenge.  Head coach Derek Lalonde was furious with the ruling, and he let the refs know it; Rank summarily issued a game misconduct, ejecting the Wings’ bench boss from the game.

Let’s dig in to the relevant parts 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. (refer to Rule 69.7 for an exception).

Stick contact in the crease on the play, right?  Let’s check out that exception.

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.

The puck is under Nedeljkovic’s skate. Wouldn’t that be considered ‘covered’?

Current ESPN rules analyst and retired NHL referee Dave Jackson weighed in:

Under his pad would be a whistle. Under his skate blade is not considered covered.

If it’s not covered, then it’s a loose puck. Let’s go back to the rule book:

In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.

Assuming the puck is not covered, this is a potential battle for a loose puck, and not a situation where the goaltender is pushed into the net.

Jackson explained:

Thought it was a battle for the puck where incidental contact is allowed and puck was probably going across the line regardless. I wouldn’t have challenged, not definitive enough to overturn.

We’ll be honest here.  We thought it would go the other way.  Nedeljkovic appears to have the puck underneath of him. Zucker’s stick applies pressure to the left leg pad, causing the goaltender’s body to turn to the left, which pushes the puck over the line.  It seemed open and shut.  We would’ve challenged.

That is until Jackson pointed out the NHL’s standard – not specified in the rulebook, but in the case book and potentially other internal communication around certain plays and situations.  If a puck under the skate isn’t considered covered, then we have to treat it as a loose puck or rebound situation.


The goal stood, tying the game for the Penguins.  That’s as far as they would get; the Pens were not able to take the lead in the game.

The Detroit Red Wings, led by a third-period hat trick from David Perron, went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins by a final score of 7-4. Referees for the game were Garrett Rank (#7) and Michael Markovic (#31), with linesmen Kyle Flemington (#55) and Jonny Murray (#95).  The decision on the Coach’s Challenge for Goaltender Interference was made by the NHL’s Situation Room.


Red Wings Head Coach Derek Lalonde Ejected After Failed Challenge