The San Jose Sharks scored an overtime goal Wednesday night to take a 2-1 series lead against the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference final.
But there was a problem with the goal, which was scored after an illegal hand pass. And the NHL was unable to step in and do anything about it.
Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the overtime goal, his second of the game, at 5:23 after taking a pass from Gustav Nyquist for a 5-4 victory.
The problem was right before that.
San Jose's Timo Meier, while on his knees, had batted the puck out of the air to the ice. And no Blues players touched the puck before it went to Nyquist.
Since a Sharks player was the next to touch it, under NHL rules, the play should have been blown dead.
Sharks win Game 3 in OT despite clear hand pass before GWG pic.twitter.com/1qJZWL30E1
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Specifically, Rule 79 says:
"A player shall be permitted to stop or 'bat' a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official."
But the problem is that the on-ice officials need to see the infraction in order to call it. And they didn't. And the play is not able to reviewed.
On-ice officials discuss whether they saw a hand pass, but none of them did. (Photo: Elsa, Getty Images)
So the goal was allowed.
"I didn't really get an explanation, other than I guess there's a different set of rules for two different teams," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "I'm sure they'll lose some sleep tonight after looking at it."
Blues players slammed their sticks on the glass and some fans threw trash on the ice.
"I didn't really see it," Karlsson told NBC Sports Network. "Gus got it right in front of the net, and I got myself available and I didn't watch the replay. … It felt like 'The Longest Yard' out there and at the end of the day, I thought it was a fair and an even game."
The play — and other controversies in these playoffs — could increase calls to have more plays available for NHL review.
In a Game 7 during the first round, the Sharks benefited when the Vegas Golden Knights were given a five-minute cross-checking penalty after referees saw Joe Pavelski bleeding on the ice. But Cody Eakin had pushed him in the chest and Pavelski lost his balance, was shoved by another player and fell, hitting his head. The Sharks scored four goals on the power play and eventually won 5-4 in overtime. Pavelski later said it shouldn't have been a major penalty and the referees didn't get assigned to the second round.
In the second round, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored after the puck hit the out-of-play protective netting and bounced back onto the ice surface.
That one didn't have a big impact on the game, unlike the two calls involving the Sharks.
Game 4 is Friday in St. Louis.
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