Capitals forward Sonny Milano showed off an impressive display of skill and hand-eye coordination, nearly scoring against the Minnesota Wild… but would it have counted?
Late in Friday’s game with score tied at 2, Washington’s John Carlson sent a cross-ice pass to Milano in the right circle. The puck deflected up into the air off Milano’s stick. The winger flipped his stick over and batted it down – away from Wild defenseman Brock Faber – then swatted it out of mid-air and toward the goal.
Minnesota goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury deflected the puck into the corner to maintain the tie.
But what if it had gone in?
The shot on goal was clearly below crossbar height, so that would’ve been legal. The deflection, on the other hand…
Let’s check the relevant part of Rule 80:
Batting the puck above the normal height of the shoulders with a stick is prohibited. When a puck is struck with a high stick and subsequently comes into the possession and control of a player from the offending team (including the player who made contact with the puck), either directly or deflected off any player or official, there shall be a whistle.
When a puck has been contacted by a high stick, the play shall be permitted to continue, provided that … the puck has been batted to an opponent. When a player bats the puck to an opponent, the Referee shall give the “washout” signal immediately. Otherwise, he will stop the play.
Referee T.J. Luxmore, positioned in the corner, is giving the washout signal on this play. It’s unclear if he did so because it was no goal, or if he judged the deflection to be legal.
From the video, it looked like Milano tipped the puck above shoulder height, which should result in an immediate whistle.
Here’s the fun part. If the puck had gone in on Milano’s shot, the NHL’s Situation Room could not review and overturn the play unless the Minnesota Wild challenged for a missed stoppage. The league automatically reviews the height of a deflection that immediately enters the net, but this one didn’t. Milano deflected it up high before take a legal shot.
But, wait! This play came in the final minute of regulation, so things are a bit different when it comes to challenges.
Any Coach’s Challenge-eligible play in the final minute of regulation or at any point in overtime is automatically reviewed by the league. This play would’ve been reviewed to determine whether or not Milano’s stick contacted the puck above shoulder height.
At least from here, it looked like it did.
The Washington Capitals went on to win the game 3-2 in a shootout. Referees were T.J. Luxmore (#21) and Graham Skilliter (#24), with linespersons Trent Knorr (#74) and Jesse Marquis (#86).