Edmonton Oilers’ winger Leon Draisaitl scored an easy goal after Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko was knocked down outside the goal crease.
Demko played the puck in the corner, careful to avoid the trapezoid. As Vancouver defenseman Mark Friedman skated behind the net to retrieve the puck, he was closely pursued by the Oilers’ Dylan Holloway. Demko stayed put, effectively blocking Holloway’s path on a potential pick play. Holloway clipped Demko’s leg, knocking the goaltender to the ice.
No whistle. The teams played on, though only for a few more seconds. Edmonton’s Warren Foegele recovered the puck below the goal line and centered it to Draisaitl for what was effectively an empty-net goal.
Demko was asked after the game if he received an explanation from the spoke with the refs about the play.
“Uh, yeah. We talked, but I don’t care,” said Demko, whose Canucks went on to win 6-2. “It’s two points.”
Here’s the relevant portion of the Goaltender Interference rule:
69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.
When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.
Demko’s clearly holding his position and narrowing the lane to make things difficult for the attacking player. He sees the incoming skater and, instead of returning to his crease, stays put and holds his ground, squaring up to the forward.
It’s hard to call Holloway’s bump ‘unnecessary’ when he’s entitled to his lane in pursuit of the puck. Much like a defender moving in front can be called for interference on this type of play, so can – potentially – a goaltender.
In any case, incidental contact outside the goal crease would not be sufficient to disallow a goal.
Vancouver went on to win the game 6-2; referees were Kelly Sutherland (#11) and Kevin Pollock (#33), with linespersons Travis Gawryletz (#67) and Derek Nansen (#70).