The Boston Bruins’ Game 6 go-ahead goal was waved off after a Coach’s Challenge determined the puck was played with a hand pass.
Boston’s Jake DeBrusk was battling Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling along the boards. DeBrusk fell to the ice, his left hand coming off of his stick to brace his fall. As Patrice Bergeron moved in to retrieve the puck, it appeared to deflect off the figertips of DeBrusk’s glove.
The officials missed the possible hand-pass in real-time, but Florida head coach Paul Maurice’s video team spotted the opportunity. The Panthers challenged the call.
After review, the NHL’s Situation Room handed down the verdict.
Referee Eric Furlatt headed to center ice to make the announcement, only to be foiled by a technical issue with his mic. He ceded the stage to ref Trevor Hanson to break the news.
“After reviewing the play, at 11:44 [there was a] Boston hand-pass.” announced Hanson. “No goal.”
Rule 79 covers hand passes:
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.
Unlike the potential high-stick at Oilers/Kings, there’s no question DeBrusk’s glove made contact with the puck. He may not have intended to propel the puck with his hand, but intent isn’t part of the rule. Neither is quantifying the impact on the play, which likely would have played out the same way if there was no contact between the puck and the glove.
“I wasn’t intentionally trying to pass it, or else I would have got more wood on it,” DeBrusk said
The puck went directly to a Bergeron, with the Bruins potentially gaining an advantage by retaining possession in the offensive zone — though they almost certainly would have kept control of the puck even without DeBrusk’s inadvertent contact.
“I was kind of talking with the official and we were kind of laughing about it, because it was like my fingertip or something,” DeBrusk said. “So I don’t know how that’s — it is what it is. They obviously looked at it and they called it what it was.”
In this case, they called it a hand pass. One that went undetected in real-time. One that required the NHL’s Situation Room to scrutinize the play and apply the rule as written.
“I think any time that they challenge a play — whether it’s a high stick, goaltender interference, you look at the replay and you kind of dissect it frame by frame,” DeBrusk told the Boston Globe. “So, I mean, it was my fingertip. But it is a game of inches. And it’s one of those things where we just talk on the bench and go from there.
Instead of a 3-2 Boston lead, the game remained tied at two.
The Panthers scored just over minute later. Florida went on to win the game 7-5, forcing a series-deciding Game 7 on Sunday. Referees were Eric Furlatt (#27) and Trevor Hanson (#14), with linesmen Jonny Murray (#95) and Travis Gawryletz (#67).