Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly saw his potential game-tying goal against the Florida Panthers disallowed after the referee deemed the play dead prior to blowing the whistle.
Rielly appeared to push the puck under Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovski late in the second period of Friday’s Game 5. Referee Jean Hebert, positioned right behind the net, watched the puck intently but delayed blowing the play dead.
The whistle never sounded. The Maple Leafs celebrated. The league wanted a review.
The puck appeared to have crossed the line. The NHL admitted at much in its explanation.
The Referee deemed the play dead prior to the puck crossing the Florida line.
The call was made in accordance to Rule 78.5 (xii), which states 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.”
The question then becomes when and how it happened. If the puck crosses the line after the play is dead, it’s clearly no goal. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be after the whistle.
Rule 31.2 covers ‘intent to blow’:
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.
On a goal situation this is backed up in Rule 78.
Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee … 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.
This is different from a continuous play. The league does have the ability to review plays where the puck “[enters] 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,” per Rule 37.3. That portion no longer applies when the goalie has the puck covered, since there’s no way to determine at which point the puck crosses the line – or how ‘continuous’ the play actually was.
There did not appear to be a conclusive moment that showed the puck crossing the line prior to going under the goaltender’s leg, Without seeing the initial shot go in, and with no ‘goal’ call on the ice, the league has to defer to the on-ice official’s call.
He said the play was dead. No goal.
Nothing further to review.
Referees for the game were Jean Hebert (#15) and Kyle Rehman (#10); linesmen Bevan Mills (#53) and David Brisebois (#96). Series supervisor is Kay Whitmore. The ‘no-goal’ ruling was made by the Situation Room.