The Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators by a narrow margin on Sunday, 2-1, in a game marred by perhaps one of the worst calls we're likely to see this season from the NHL. The Senators appeared to have netted the game-tying goal early in the third period, when Jakob Silfverberg provided a perfect screen on a shot from distance that somehow found its way past goaltender Carey Price.
The officials immediately waved off the goal, however, due to goaltender interference, and then called a two-minute minor on Silfverberg for the infraction. Going to the tape, however, it certainly appears as if this was one hell of a blown call by the on-ice officials.
The called penalty ended what had been a fairly raucous celebration by Silfverberg and the Senators, who rightly looked extraordinarily perplexed that such a call was being allowed to be made. It's clear on replay that not only was Silfverberg nowhere near the crease when the shot came through but that Carey Price appears to have been the one to initiate contact; certainly not anything resembling actual goaltender interference occurred and certainly nothing warranting a penalty that only added insult to injury.
The issue at hand is the interpretation of yet another fairly subjective rule in the NHL Rule book. From Rule 69.1 on
"Interference on the Goalkeeper":
69.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper - This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player's position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
In this case, Brian Pochmara determined that Silfverberg -- apparently -- not only committed enough contact to impede Price but that it must have been intentional contact to call off the goal, since the contact occurred well outside the crease. Either that, or Pochmara believed the contact happened in the crease, which would be an entirely alternate altogether.
This blown call will also once again raise the debate of expanded video review, as this call is not available to be looked at by off-ice officials. The NHL has stated that the league could look into expanded video review, although sweeping chances aren't likely coming anytime soon.
The reaction to this call by Pochmara can be summed up with one word -- dumbfounding -- but we'll let Sens coach Paul MacLean provide the best reaction to the no-goal call: