The Tampa Bay Lightning converted a Leafs turnover to take a two-goal lead in Game 3…  or so they thought.  The goal was waved off, as referee Francis Charron had whistled the play dead. 

Toronto defenseman Tyson Barrie made an ill-advised backhand pass from behind the goal line that deflected on net. Tampa’s Brayden Point was right there to follow up on the play, pushing the puck past goaltender Ilya Samsonov to put the Bolts up 4-2.

Referee Francis Charron was also right there, though, and he’d stopped play before the puck crossed the line.  No goal, Tampa.



The league’s Situation Room took a look at the play to confirm if – or when – the puck went over the line.  They cannot, though, make a ruling about the official’s whistle.

Referee Francis Charron intended to blow the whistle to stop play for a covered puck. Even if the puck had crossed the line prior to the whistle sounding, the goal would have been disallowed.

From Rule 31.2:

As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

Again, if Charron says the play was dead, there’s nothing to review.  Rule 78.5 (xii) supports that as well.

Apparent goals shall be disallowed … when the Referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper disagreed with the quick whistle.

“I have zero idea why he blew the whistle,” Cooper said after the game. “It’s shocking. The entire building, there was 20,000 people saw it was sitting right there. What I don’t get is I don’t know what the ref had to gain by blowing the whistle.”

Curiously, the Lightning did score on a play earlier in the game where the whistle sounded on a puck that appeared to be covered.  With Nick Paul at the top of the crease, a shot from Tampa’s Brandon Hagel trickled over the goal line as Charron blew the whistle.  


The league took a moment to review the play, with referee Francis Charron conveying the ruling.

“Upon video review, it has been determined that the original shot fully crossed the goal line, ” announced Charron. “We have a good goal.”

From the NHL’s Situation Room: 

“Video review determined that Brandon Hagel’s  original shot completely crossed the Toronto goal line as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle.”

“Rule 37.3 (i) outlines goal situations subject to video review, such as a Puck entering the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result of the play was unaffected by any whistle blown by the Referee upon his losing sight of the puck.”


In this case, Hagel’s goal counted, as it was scored on a continuous play.  Had Paul – or Perry, positioned alongside the post – batted the puck when the ref was stopping play, we’d have had no goal on this one as well.  Instead, the original shot was deemed to have counted, unaffected by the whistle.

Going back to Point’s no-goal, if that goes in on the original deflection, the goal stands. With Point making a play after the ref determined it had been stopped, it’s no goal. 


The Toronto Maple Leafs went on to with the game 4-3 in overtime. Referees were Francis Charron (#6) and Jake Brenk (#26); linesmen were Brandon Gawryletz (#64) and Scott Cherrey (#50).