NHL admits it missed hand-pass that led to Sharks OT-winner, reportedly removes all four officials from playoffs

On Thursday, a top NHL executive admitted what we all already knew: The game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final shouldn't have counted due to a hand-pass infraction just prior to the goal being scored.

A missed call on a blatant hand-pass led to Erik Karlsson's game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3, giving the Sharks a 2-1 series lead. It was the latest controversial case of officiating in a postseason that has had several egregious blown calls, several of which have been of major consequence.

On Thursday, NHL Executive VP Colin Campbell joined Sportsnet's Hockey Central at Noon to discuss the unfortunate finish to Wednesday's game. He admitted the on-ice officials missed the call. 

"That was the wrong call," Campbell said. "It should've been a whistle if the referee had seen it live. Yes, you could probably use [Rule 38.4(ix)] but i think it has to be a discussion [before expanding use of that rule].

"It's so unfair that the game ended that way. The wrong way."

The rule Campbell referenced in his response is one that allows the NHL to provide assistance to officials in determining whether a goal should count based on the sequence of events prior to a potential goal being scored. Under the current guidelines, the league can provide further assistance in looking at whether a puck entered the net illegally (through the goal's meshing or underneath the net frame) or undetected by officials, as well as if a puck hit the spectator netting prior to directly entering the goal.

However, the rulebook doesn't currently allow for hand pass plays to go to video review unless the puck enters the net as a direct result of a hand pass (i.e. it is swatted directly into the net). As a result, the Blues had no way of challenging the goal on Wednesday night.

Campbell said that the league could modify the rule to include hand pass plays as soon as the start of next season, but that will likely come as little consolation to the Blues and their fans, who saw a swing game in the Western Conference Final ripped away from them this week.

This marks the second time this postseason that the NHL has admitted they've gotten a big call wrong. The league previously conceded that officials working Game 7 of the Sharks-Golden Knights opening round series incorrectly called a major penalty on a Cody Eakin cross-check in the third period. The Sharks, who were trailing 3-0 at the time of the infraction, went on to score four power play goals during the resulting major penalty and win the do-or-die finale. 

The two referees responsible for calling the Eakin major were removed from playoff assignment following the massive blunder. On Thursday, it was reported that the NHL would also remove the four on-ice officials that missed the hand-pass in Game 3.

That would make four referees and two linesmen eliminated from postseason assignments as a result of costly errors that have benefited the Sharks.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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