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Here’s why the Panthers’ controversial shootout goal shouldn’t have counted

Close, but not quite.

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning fans were ready to cry foul at the end of their game against the rival Florida Panthers on Tuesday. And they might’ve had a good case!

Let’s set the scene. Florida and Tampa Bay played a tight game all night, culminating in a Steven Stamkos goal late to send the game to overtime. It eventually led to a shootout, and Tampa Bay appeared to seal the game when Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck lost the puck on his attempt.


Yes, as goalie Ben Bishop and the Bolts were celebrating a big win, the referee had counted Trocheck’s attempt as valid. It didn’t end up mattering since Tampa Bay won a few shots later, but for the sake of the outrage machine, let’s figure out if this was a good call.

First, to the rulebook! Here’s what the 2016-17 NHL rulebook says about penalty (and, therefore, shootout) shots. Emphasis mine.

The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete. No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line or comes to a complete stop, the shot shall be considered complete.

So there are a few things in there. Let’s go one by one.

  • Did the puck stay in motion towards the Lightning’s goal line?


Uh ...

No. No it does not.

But let’s keep going.

  • Was the puck shot, making the play complete?

Hey look, we’ve found our grey area. Watch the GIFs above closely. It certainly doesn’t look like Trocheck actually made a shot. Oh, sure, he tried. But the puck escaped at the right (worst?) moment.

So even though the puck didn’t continue forward motion, it also wasn’t even shot, which would make the play complete. So ... I don’t know.

Let’s tackle the last bit of criteria.

  • Did the puck cross the goal line or come to a complete stop, making the play complete?

Pretty clear “no” on both counts, honestly. If anything, it slightly went backwards and would’ve kept floating to the boards if Trocheck didn’t gather and shoot.

So, in conclusion: the play meets every piece of criteria for a legal shot except the big one: forward motion. Considering that’s the first thing mentioned in the rule, I’d assume that should take priority over every other requirement. Trocheck lost the puck and it slid backwards. Play over. Game over.

But I don’t get paid to make those calls. I just tweet. And it ultimately didn’t matter. So I thank you for making it this far into the post. SB Nation cannot be held liable for the 10 minutes you lost reading this. Please direct all complaints to @TravisSBN.