The Florida Panthers’ overtime game-winning goal was overturned by the Situation Room for goaltender interference in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.
After a turnover in the Carolina zone, Panthers center Colin White drove to the net. He skated into the blue paint, making contact with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Defenseman Jack Drury held his ground at the top of the crease, also bumping the attacking forward.
With Bobrovsky out of position, a turnaround shot from Ryan Lomberg beat him to the left.
The officials huddled as public address announcer Wade Minter relayed the five words the Panthers dreaded: “The play is under review.”
As with all goals in overtime or the final minute of regulation, Lomberg’s goal was automatically reviewed by the league for all conditions eligible for a Coach’s Challenge: goaltender interference, offside, or a potential missed stoppage.
From the NHL’s Situation Room:
Video review determined Florida’s Colin White had a significant presence in the crease and made incidental contact with goaltender Frederik Andersen that impaired his ability to play his position prior to Ryan Lomberg’s goal.
The decision was based on Rule 69.1:
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.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
White freely entered the blue paint; his initial path was not the result of contact from the defender. While Drury’s body position may have blocked White, the Panthers center had options to vacate the paint.
Contact within the goal crease – which this clearly was – is addressed under Rule 69.3:
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.
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.
White got in there on his own and established body position. Despite Drury’s defense, the league ruled that the blueliner was not responsible for the goaltender interference.
Some eagle-eyed fans caught that the Florida Panthers may have been offside on the play. While the puck did leave the Hurricanes zone, it was put back into the defensive end by a Carolina player, negating a possible offside whistle.
If a player legally carries, passes or plays the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.
As part of their review, the Situation Room would have confirmed that the play was onside – had it not already been disallowed for goaltender interference.
The Panthers would eventually get another overtime goal. It just took an extra three – nearly four – periods of play, until Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk scored with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime to claim a 3-2 victory for the Panthers. Referees for the game were Steve Kozari (#40) and Chris Lee (#28), with linesmen Brad Kovachik (#71) and Bevan Mills (#53).