NHL made proper call disallowing Matthews' game-tying tally

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The NHL made the right call when they denied <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/7109/" data-ylk="slk:Auston Matthews">Auston Matthews</a> of his game-tying goal. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
The NHL made the right call when they denied Auston Matthews of his game-tying goal. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Auston Matthews was denied a share of third place in the NHL goal-scoring race and his team was unable to force overtime against the league’s worst after a controversial decision reversed a call on the ice that originally awarded Matthews the game-tying tally.

Always attracting much debate from all sides whenever it’s at the forefront of a controversial scoring decision, NHL Rule No. 69 in regards to “interference on the goaltender” is one of the most misunderstood, maligned and confusing there is.

So, let’s try and break it down a little bit starting with the central sub-rule of this decision:

NHL Rule No. 69.3 Contact Inside the Goal Crease: If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

The attacking player, Zach Hyman, clearly initiated contact to the chest of Antti Raanta with his stick. After creating the collision, Hyman continued pressing forward with more than a little force.

The goalkeeper was fully in his crease and was pushed directly backwards several inches by the opposing attacker. Though the Coyotes netminder did have a brief period of time to get set for Matthews’ shot after the initial contact from Hyman, he was forced to shuffle across on his knees, leaving him vulnerable against one of the NHL’s best snipers.

The shot was originally called a goal on the ice, but the overhead replay angle distinctly showed that several aspects of Rule 69.3 were violated, resulting in the proper decision to disallow the tally.

So goes the saga of controversial goaltender interference calls in the NHL. Some will go Toronto’s way, and some won’t. Over time, however, these types of breaks tend to even out — as several players alluded to after the game. Besides, The Maple Leafs did themselves no favours playing a basement-dwelling, Mountain Time Zone club to a one-goal game at home.

Though head coach Mike Babcock disagrees with my assessment of the call, he is certainly of the mind that his team simply didn’t do enough to win.


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