Another shootout controversy as Islanders’ Hickey scores questionable goal

The Islanders’ Thomas Hickey had his shot stopped by the Ducks’ Jonathan Bernier before pushing the netminder’s pad across the goal line, but the goal stood. Bernier and coach Randy Carlyle were none too pleased with the call.

The rules of the shootout seem fairly cut and dry, which makes it odd that we’ve yet again stumbled into another conversation about what is and isn’t legal when it comes to the one-on-one between shooters and goaltenders.

Just days into the campaign, a goal scored by Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck had the league talking. On that play, the puck looked dead, trickling helplessly away from Trocheck after he mishandled it, only for him to reach out, grab the puck and sling it into the net for what would eventually be called a good goal, despite initial no-goal calls from the on-ice officials.

Now, little more than a month later, it appears conversations are going to need to be had about what does and doesn’t constitute interfering with a goaltender on a shootout attempt.

In a marathon shootout Tuesday between the Islanders and Ducks, New York called on rearguard Thomas Hickey to take an attempt in the 12th round. Hickey stepped up the dot, took the puck in and appeared to be stopped on his initial shot by Anaheim netminder Jonathan Bernier. That was until Hickey shoved the puck — and subsequently the pad of Bernier — across the goal line. See it for yourself:

It’s not an egregious shove, and even the most staunch Ducks supporter could at least admit that, but it’s clear there’s a shove nevertheless. Were it not for Hickey jamming his stick forward, the puck likely never would have crossed the line, and that would have ended up sealing the game for Anaheim. Instead, in the 14th round, Nick Leddy netted the winner and the Islanders skated away with a second point.

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“I was under the understanding that you can’t score a goal in the NHL today by pushing the goaltender’s pad with the puck underneath it over the line,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said post-game, according to “I guess I was proved wrong again tonight to much of our surprise.” 

Carlyle added that it was because the referees couldn’t conclusively determine where the puck was which led to the goal standing, and Bernier said firmly that it was “pretty obvious” that he was pushed into the net.

With Hickey’s goal ending a game, and Trocheck’s bizarre marker counting, it sure sounds like the shootout is in need of some rule clarifications. 

It wouldn’t be the first time the league has taken aim at changing the rules, either. In the early days, the spin-o-rama became one of the most bemoaned shootout moves, which led to it being banned from the game-deciding competition.

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