NHL upholds referee's ruling on Mike Smith's game-ending own goal

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Should the refs have called the play dead?

Now that the dust has settled on the chaotic ending to the Buffalo Sabres' 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, the question remains whether the winning goal should have occurred at all. According to the NHL, the officials made the right call.

Rule 85.3 states the winning play should have been whistled dead as soon as the puck disappeared in Coyotes goalie Mike Smith's equipment:

85.3 Puck Out of Sight - Should a scramble take place or a player accidentally fall on the puck and the puck be out of sight of the Referee, he shall immediately blow his whistle and stop the play. The puck shall then be faced-off at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where the play was stopped unless otherwise provided for in the rules.

However, here's the NHL's official ruling:

At 3:47 of overtime in the Coyotes/Sabres game, video review supported the referee's call on the ice that Mark Pysyk's shot deflected into the air and landed in goaltender Mike Smith's equipment and, while attempting to make the save, Smith's momentum propelled him and the puck completely across the goal line. Good goal Buffalo.

So it appears the NHL's review only debated the play on the grounds of whether the puck crossed the line or not, not whether the play should have even occurred at all. Which makes sense. Since the referees didn't blow their whistles when they lost sight of the puck, the play continued on and therefore only the goal call on the ice was reviewable.

Smith made his opinions about the call and his team's play clear after the game.

Indeed.

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