The final minute of St. Louis' 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night had a little bit of everything.
After David Backes was awarded a goal on a play where the puck never actually went in the net (the correct call, by the way), the game ended with a massive line brawl that also overshadowed the fact that the Blues were awarded what appeared to be a fourth goal when Chris Potter put the puck into an empty net just before the buzzer, only to have it later taken away and the NHL apparently decided to "change" the final score.
Neither team seemed to know what was going on.
St. Louis awarded a 4th goal at the buzzer. Final score 4-1 Blues.— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 18, 2014
Chris Porter's empty net goal with 0.1 seconds left will count. Blues win 4-1. #stlblues— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 18, 2014
OK - so now Porter's goal won't count. The play was blown dead. FINAL (maybe): Blues 3, Jets 1. #stlblues— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 18, 2014
The NHL has changed the final score from 4-1 to 3-1. #JetsvsBlues— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 18, 2014
Neither broadcast actually showed the puck going into the net because as Porter was apparently scoring with less than a second to play, the focus shifted to the other end of the ice where a line brawl was unfolding that resulted in 100 penalty minutes being handed out. As you can clearly hear on the Jets broadcast the announcers point out that the referee on the ice was signaling goal (Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford also pointed it out).
The NHL has yet to offer an explanation for what exactly happened in the final seconds, but if you re-watch the clip of the brawl it sounds like there is a whistle being blown with around three seconds to play, just as the fight is starting. It seems likely that they determined the play had been blown dead at that point, thus negating the goal.
That still doesn't explain why the signaled goal in the first place and put it on the board.
For this particular game it doesn't really mean anything whether or not the Blues win 3-1 or 4-1. They won, they were the better team, and they completely shut the Jets offense down for 60 minutes. But the Jets are still in a fight for a playoff spot with several other teams, and even though it's not likely to come down to it, goal-differential is one of the NHL's tiebreakers. And because of that, the league owes it to everybody involved to at least explain why there was a goal awarded and then taken away after the fact.