Already on the penalty kill, center Jay Beagle golfed the puck up, trying to clear it. It went into the Washington Capitals’ bench, but that was just the start of the dilemma.
Normally the puck landing on one of the benches means no penalty. But did the puck go over the glass in the defensive zone?
The officials, referees Kyle Rehman and Francois St. Laurent, and linesmen Jean Morin and John Grandt, huddled and needed a few minutes to make the call.
“I didn’t see the puck go out of the rink and I didn’t know if it hit our bench or it went into the stands. I had no clue,” Beagle said after the Caps’ 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. “One ref and one linesman said he had no clue. The other linesman said he was pretty sure. They were kind of arguing about that. I could hear them arguing by the faceoff circle.”
There was certainly a difference of opinion from the Caps’ side, too.
“It went over the glass before it went into the bench. So that’s the rule,” coach Adam Oates said. “They saw it that way. I can’t say that I saw the puck go over the glass at that time, but one of the linesmen called it. He said he saw it.”
Center Mathieu Perreault, not known for his penalty-killing acumen, saw it differently from the bench.
“They said it went over the glass into the bench. From where I was sitting on the bench I don’t think it went over the glass,” Perreault said. “It was like right on the corner of it, like it was so close. It’s a tough call, five-on-four, you couldn’t, like, let that go on?”
That was just the beginning of the weirdness. Because after the officials met and decided the puck went over the glass and warranted a penalty, they sent defenseman rookie Tomas Kundratek to the box. Except Beagle shot it out.
“It was kind of scrum there,” Kundratek said. “It was kind of me between him. So I went to [serve] that.”
Except it wasn’t that innocent. Beagle knew the call should’ve been on him, and the ace penalty killer and faceoff specialist tried to exploit the chaos.
“I think they were just so confused and I was trying to hide, obviously, because it was a faceoff on my side,” he said. “I should have been the one in the box. I just tried to hide from them and they didn’t put me in. … So I did a good job of hiding, I guess.”
The Caps were able to not just kill off that Devils five-on-three power play, the quartet of Beagle, Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner and John Carlson held New Jersey without a shot for the 1:39 after the penalty.
“Our penalty killing: Karl and John were fantastic back there,” Oates said. “And our forwards that killed did a great job.”
Ultimately the penalty didn’t directly cost the Caps, but the pile-up of calls eventually led to another five-on-three and Ilya Kovalchuk’s game-winner.
Before that, though, there was plenty of confusion about the Caps’ eighth puck-over-the-glass penalty in 16 games this season.
“Apparently there’s a rule, I don’t know, if it goes over the glass through the stands and then anyways landed on the bench it’s still a penalty,” Kundratek said. “So I don’t know. If it goes straight to the bench then it’s not.”
Said Beagle: “I didn’t know that rule. So that’s what the linesman had explained to me. Two of the refs had no clue. So one linesman was just kind of making that call. And I could hear them talking. And they were like ‘We didn’t see it.’ ”