Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Tuesday night and did what Pavel Datsyuk does, which is score a ridiculous goal: Blazing speed into the Montreal Canadiens zone, a dangle to the middle, a spinning backhand perfectly placed past Carey Price.
Only it didn’t count.
Nor should it have counted, as per the NHL’s goalie interference rules and the real-time enforcement of them, without benefit of review.
Justin Abdelkader of the Red Wings parked himself next to Price, his skate near the crease. Price moved into his hip, attempting to defend the shot. And the goal was disallowed because of that contact.
Fox Sports Detroit announcers Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond went a little nuts, attempting to paint Price as the aggressor here. And he was, but it doesn't matter, as the NHL rules state:
“Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal.”
Now, the Red Wings ended up losing this one, 2-1 in overtime, turning this disallowed goal into a rather significant one, because Detroit would have gone up 2-0. Instead, Alex Galchenyuk scored with 3:09 left and then Montreal won it in overtime.
After the game, coach Mike Babcock joined the chorus of his announcers: "Abby ends up with his foot in the paint, but Price definitely initiates contact."
Again: Letter of the law, the refs called it right, because there's no way of telling if Price sold the bump or if was impaired, as the play went on.
But if the question is whether the law should work like that, giving goalies yet another advantage per the rulebook while coaches have no recourse with a challenge during the game, well … it’s just too bad about that Datsyuk goal is all.