NHL explains why Predators goal didn’t count

If you’re moving on now from the Nashville Predators’ season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final and don’t wish to revisit the controversial details of that 2-0 defeat, stop here.

If you’re clamoring for an answer from the NHL on the Predators goal that wasn’t a goal early in the second period, I’ve got one for you. You may not be satisfied, but it’s something. And there’s no change from the initial impression: Official Kevin Pollock messed up when he blew the whistle early on a play that saw Colton Sissons poke in a rebound, but not reviewing and overruling that play was correct application of the NHL rulebook.

“The way the play was called in Nashville was the proper way it should be called,” John Dellapina, VP of communications for the NHL, said Tuesday. “Once the whistle is blown, there is no mechanism in our rules to overrule that call.”

That would seem to suggest that the Sissons goal could have been reviewed – Filip Forsberg put the puck on net, it squirted free from Matt Murray and Sissons immediately popped it into the net. That seems “continuous” to me.

But “continuous” actually has a more specific definition, per Dellapina. This only would have been continuous “if Forsberg’s initial shot continued into the net,” he said.

“But once Sissons played the puck, it no longer was a continuous play under our definition,” Dellapina said.

Here’s the other problem: As seen in a clip sent to me by Predators TV play-by-play announcer Willy Daunic, the Calgary Flames got a goal just like this against Buffalo early in the season. The whistle blew, the goal was scored on a rebound and not the initial shot, it was reviewed and the initial ruling of no goal was overruled.

So I sent that clip to Dellapina. His response was that he won’t discuss comparisons of one scoring play to another.

Let me translate that for you and say what he can’t: The officials in Calgary really screwed up and applied the rule incorrectly. That’s the outlier, and it makes this whole thing worse for Predators fans. I can hear some of them now: “Conspiracy!”

That’s not it. Believe me, the NHL would have loved for this series to go to Game 7. And I believe the NHL would have loved to see Nashville win it, too. Nashville is the model for what Gary Bettman has been trying to do for a long time in expanding his sport.

This was simply an official making a terrible mistake at a terrible time. The NHL should probably look at this rule in the offseason. And it absolutely has to get better at expressing its rules clearly.

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