With the Boston Bruins leading 6-4 in the third period of Game 2 in the Eastern Conference finals, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman(notes) nearly scored a goal, the puck sliding across the goal line.
Thomas could be heard over VERSUS airwaves exclaiming, "No whistle with the helmet?!" He went to the bench with blood over his left eye after the collision in front.
Did he know the puck went off his noggin? Thomas said after the game: "I haven't seen the replay. I've been told that the puck went off my head. But I didn't even realize it. At that point I was trying to find it, I think."
So was it the right call by the refs to keep the play going with the Bruins goalie sans lid?
The rule in question can be found in "Section 9.5 - Protective Equipment" of the NHL rulebook:
Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the 6-5 victory that the refs got this one correct:
"They gave me the right explanation. You're supposed to blow the whistle when the goalie's mask comes off. But if they're in the scoring position, the referee has the discretion to let it go. And they felt they were in the scoring position. And then so they didn't blow the whistle.
"So for me it was understanding it, because when you look back at the replay, the helmet's off for a while, and I was hoping that they would have blown it earlier, but it was the right call."
Thomas made six saves after this odd goal, preserving the victory in what Tampa coach Guy Boucher called a "pond hockey" game — an appropriate description for any contest involving a goal scored off a keeper's face, we think.