The Chicago Blackhawks appeared to tie Game 3 in the third period after Viktor Stalberg's shot glanced off Andrew Shaw and past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, but it was immediately waved off by referee. Should it have been, though?
Shaw made no contact with Howard and the only reason he was in the crease was because Jakub Kindl initiated the contact that put him there. It's a questionable call that resulted in a huge momentum swing in the game.
Just over a minute later, Pavel Datsyuk scored for the Red Wings to make it 3-1, which would hold up as the final score.
The ruling on the ice was that Shaw interfered with Howard, however as multiple replays showed, Shaw never made contact with Howard, though he was in the crease.
“I disagree,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said of the call after the game. “[Shaw] didn't touch the goalie.”
The rules may actually agree with Quenneville.
Here's a look at what Rule 69.1 has to say about goalie interference:
… goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. 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; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
Rule 69.3 more distinctly speaks to when a player is in the crease, stating:
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper's vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
Based on either of those descriptions, it is very hard to make an argument that Shaw impaired Howard's vision or ability to defend his goal. Additionally, Shaw could not vacate the crease because of the two Red Wings defensemen immediately behind him.
There's some room for interpretation, but this still appears to be a miss by the referee and very well could have cost the Blackhawks the game. If it is tied at that point, it's an entirely different hockey game.
The Blackhawks probably didn't play well enough to win anyway, but that goal could have quickly turned the tide.
Quenneville agreed that the call took momentum away.
“We had the momentum," he said of scoring the apparent tying goal. "We had everything going, coming back 2-0 that quickly, we were in a great spot."
What makes this apparent blown call a bit more interesting is that the officials appeared to miss what should have been a checking-from-behind or boarding call on Niklas Hjalmarsson just prior to Chicago's first goal of the third period.
Hjalmarsson appeared to hit Johan Franzen from behind, leaving the Red Wings forward crumpled on the ice. Play continued, but had the call been made, it would have been blown dead on the rush on which Patrick Kane scored the goal to make it a 2-1 game.
So one could say that the two bad calls, having benefited each team, cancel each other out, but that's not how this works.
The missed penalty call on Hjalmarsson is a touch more common, as there are plenty of infractions that go uncalled in a playoff game. It's a bad call for sure, but that miss is merely highlighted because Chicago was able to score immediately after on the ensuing rush. There will be plenty more missed penalty calls throughout these playoffs.
Goalie interference calls, however, have to be no-doubters. That's one of those calls where the referee has to be absolutely sure because they don't come around too often and have a direct impact on the score. It's hard to believe there was emphatic visual evidence in this instance.
Considering the importance of a Game 3 in a previously tied series, missed calls like this simply can't happen at this level. Referees are going to make mistakes and there will always be human error, but for it to factor so prominently into a big game like this is embarrassing for the league.
You're not supposed to notice the officials, but they will likely dominate the conversation despite a terrific performance by the Red Wings Monday night.