Depending upon who you talk to Brandon Sutter may or may not have scored the would be game-tying goal in the 3-2 loss to Los Angeles last night. For example, take the two of the three players directly involved in the play…
Sutter on his close call: “I was pretty surprised… I definitely got pushed into the net… I have no idea how they didn’t call it a goal.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 28, 2014
More Doughty: “Yeah, I gave him a few shots from behind, but that had nothing to do with his stick and pushing [Jones] into the net.”
— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) March 28, 2014
Decide for yourself…
It certainly looks like Sutter had a lot of help from behind.
The refs and reviewers in Toronto however shared Doughty’s opinion, declaring no goal on account of goaltender interference. This was not before trolling the crowd with an opening proclamation that “the puck was in before the net went off…”. Might as well have ended with, “…but I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
Following the game, the league provided further explanation while offering this statement:
“The referee informed the Situation Room that after a huddle, the officials’ group decision was that Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter pushed Los Angeles goaltender Martin Jones’ pad and the puck into the net, impeding Jones’ ability to play his position. According to Rule 78.5 (ix) “Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.” This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee’s call on the ice stands – no penalty and no goal Pittsburgh.”
So basically this rule makes sense, but like many things with the NHL it’s left incomplete. Perhaps the league should reconsider revising the rule without omitting the very real possibility that a goaltender can be pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save on account of a teammate assaulting a member of the other team.
The call had a major effect on the flow of the game. After controlling possession the beginning half of the third period, the Pens flat-lined in unblocked shot attempts the rest of the way. The Sutter play occurred with 10:19 remaining. Unblocked shot attempt chart via Extra Skater:
The Pens had just three shots on goal in the final ten minutes of play. They had the puck, the Kings were able to block six shots during that same span –most of them coming in the final minute when Pittsburgh gave it a last-ditch effort, but for whatever reason it just wouldn’t go.
It’s tough to point to one play in a game where the Pens had many great opportunities, including seven power plays, but that one stung. It’s also hard to say how the game could have panned out if it counted, but there’s no question that was a turning point in the game.