The red light was on, the Washington Capitals were celebrating and Brooks Laich looked to have just his second goal in the past 15 games. Just 3:33 into the second period Sunday afternoon, the Caps had a lead on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not so fast.
While referee Kyle Rehman behind the net called it a goal, Kyle Furlatt and linesmen Michel Cormier and Tim Nowak argued that Laich made contact with goaltender Cam Ward. Apparently the NHL’s situation room in Toronto then called Verizon Center for clarification, and the officials told them – and later Dale Hunter and the Caps – that it was “incidental contact with the goalie.”
Laich was confused about the whole ordeal.
“Well he had it – Kyle had it as a goal. And then we were told the other three guys said there was contact. But I don’t know – Kyle was the closest guy to the net.,” Laich said. “I guess he’s overruled by the other three guys, but then if that’s the case then I don’t know why there’s a review of the goal.
“If you’re going to be overruled you shouldn’t have to check for anything else. I don’t know. Whatever.”
What was odd was that after the referees got off the phone with Toronto, no one made an announcement about why the goal was disallowed. The NHL rulebook, in section 78.5, states that “Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons.” One of the reasons is: “When an attacking player has interfered with a goalkeeper in his goal crease.”
Approached after the game, the officials declined comment.
“No interviews after the game,” Furlatt said.
NHL policy does not force officials to comment on calls.
About 15 minutes after the Caps wrapped up a 2-1 win, veteran right wing Mike Knuble was still confused.
“Something wasn’t making sense there. I still don’t know what the verdict was. I had to go ask them at a commercial break what was happening,” he said. “It just didn’t sound right – the way the system works. For it to be called a goal on the ice and then, I don’t know. They said they overruled it on the ice, but then Toronto’s calling. I don’t get it. It’s kind of a funny situation.”
At the end of the night, the disallowed goal did not wind up being the difference between two points and none. But Hunter still protested that Laich barely grazed Ward, something replays showed.
“It was one of those calls that you hope it evens up at the end of the year,” the coach said.