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Fraser: Vanek's goal against Habs shouldn't have counted

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Kerry Fraser
2/8/2013 1:06:48 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hey Kerry,
 
You are probably getting deluged with emails about the tying goal in the Habs vs. Sabres game. You can't seriously defend the refereeing fraternity on this one! To review - the puck was clearly not visible and
Steve Ott used his skate to move Budaj while Ott was basically sitting on the goalie in the paint!
 
This is one on which the refs would surely want a mulligan!
 
Andy Shapiera
Toronto, Ontario

---
 
Hi Kerry,
 
Without the risk of sounding biased, why was the goal allowed last night by
Thomas Vanek with 1.5 seconds left in the third period of the game between Montreal and Buffalo?
 
All season long any player who makes contact with the goalie is called on interference let alone the fact that they are in the crease.  What made last night different?
 
Thanks,
Paul

Andy and Paul:

I thank you for this question on the game-altering play with 1.5 seconds remaining between the Habs and the Sabres. With "Snowmaggedon" approaching Buffalo, Toronto and the entire Eastern Seaboard Thursday night, I was watching the TSN broadcast from the comfort of our Aruba Marriott vacation suite via NHL GameCenter Live!
 
Even though the snow had not yet hit Buffalo, there was plenty of 'digging' going on in front of Montreal goalkeeper Peter Budaj. A plow in the form of Steve Ott cleared Budaj off the frozen puck which allowed Thomas Vanek to push it across the line and force overtime.

Prior to video review concluding that the puck had 'crossed the goal line in legal fashion,' I was in communication with That's Hockey2Nite producer Jason Palter advising him as to why the whistle should have blown to stop play on two counts prior to Vanek pushing the puck across the goal line.

Five minutes after Buffalo defeated the Canadiens in a shootout I was on the air via Skype with super talented host Steve Kouleas providing my take on the goal that never should have been allowed.

As I share my findings with you in this edition of C'Mon Ref, we see yet another example of undetected contact with the goalkeeper which impacted the game.

A Montreal win became a shootout loss and a Buffalo loss was altered to a two-point Sabre victory!
 
I have continually stated that until interference with the goalkeeper becomes a reviewable offense (by the Referee) we will see more of what took place last night. I'm not a prophet but as someone who has been in the trenches I know just how difficult it can be to get this call right in real time. Maybe those that haven't been in the trenches will come to the conclusion that video replay is the only way to protect the integrity of the final standings.

Last night video review was utilized (as it is in the scoring of all goals) to verify that the puck entered the net legally; meaning that the puck was not kicked, batted with a hand or high stick. The guys conducting this review in the Situation Room must have been pulling out what little hair that might have remaining on their head when they could NOT offer information to the Referee as to how the puck became available for Thomas Vanek to deposit into the net "legally". As you read the findings from the Situation Room blog their findings could only state, "Good Goal Buffalo."

NHL.com - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

MTL @ BUF - 19:58 of the Third Period

At 19:58 of the third period in the Canadiens/Sabres game, Toronto Situation Room initiated a review to determine whether the puck crossed the goal line in a legal fashion. Video review upheld the referee's decision on the ice that the puck went off Thomas Vanek's stick and in the net. Good Goal Buffalo.

C'Mon Ref says while it might have been good for Buffalo and their fans, it was NOT a good goal! As the puck arrived in the goal crease with plenty of traffic from both teams in tight on Peter Budaj an initial butterfly pad save was made that resulted in a close rebound. From the rebound the puck was pushed under Budaj and frozen. 

At this point the whistle should have been blown; especially with the amount of traffic in tight on the Montreal goalkeeper.  This didn't occur because Referee Tim Peel was totally blocked out as he attempted to gain a sightline through traffic at the side of the net. As the Referee was appropriately repositioning himself below the goal line and behind the net Steve Ott backed into Peter Budaj knocking the Habs goalie off the puck and pushing him into the net. The once frozen puck was now exposed and available for Thomas Vanek to get his stick on and push over the line with Referee Peel now in a position behind the net to signal the goal.

A liberal and generous application of Rule 69.6 - Rebound and Loose Pucks should have been applied even if the initial freezing of the puck was not detected which states, "In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck by an attacking player after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed."

The Referee, through no real fault of his own, was unable to detect the frozen puck and subsequently Steve Ott's contact with Peter Budaj due to an obstructed view at the time.  I can guarantee you that if Referee Tim Peel (or any other Referee) had the ability to go a replay screen and review the play he would have overturned his initial decision to allow the goal. Instead he would have either determined the play dead or disallowed the goal based on contact with the Montreal goalkeeper by Buffalo forward, Steve Ott.

Until the Referees' or a coach's challenge provide the ability to review plays of this nature there is no guarantee that 'Good Goals' will be the end result.

So anyway - stock up your pantry, stay warm and safe indoors while watching the great NHL matchups this weekend. No digging, please.

Thomas Vanek Tyler Ennis Sabres (Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
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