TORONTO – James van Riemsdyk saw the puck in the net, yet he still wondered if his shootout attempt was actually a goal.
Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith did a good job disguising the puck, almost as well as van Riemsdyk remembered Carey Price doing at the 2007 world junior championship against Patrick Kane. It worked for Canada against van Riemsdyk and the United States then, but the Toronto Maple Leafs got the benefit of the doubt this time on the way to a 2-1 shootout victory.
Van Riemsdyk’s shootout attempt went to video review, and because there was no conclusive evidence, the call on the ice stood. Only it came as a surprise when that was announced as a goal because referee Paul Devorski didn’t make that clear to everyone before review.
“He told Smitty,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “He didn’t point to it or anything but he told Smitty it was a goal.”
Smith backed that up, but it was still confusing to him.
“He came and whispered it in my ear like ‘it’s a goal,’ and he didn’t really give a signal that it was,” Smith said. “He made the call, he said he saw it go in. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes.”
Smith conceded he didn’t see a replay, relaying only that teammates said there wasn’t an angle that showed the puck in the net.
“I guess there was only one guy in this whole building that saw it go in, and that was him,” Smith said. “I guess you’ve got to respect his call.”
Tippett didn’t express any displeasure over the decision once Devorski explained that he saw the puck was in the net.
“You’ve got to take him for his word,” Tippett said. “There’s inconclusive on the video, but when Paul says 100 per cent or 110 per cent, he said, ‘Tipp I saw it in,’ you have to trust him.”
Van Riemsdyk couldn’t help but find out for himself after his back-handed attempt seemed to sneak through.
“That’s why I stayed around the net to take a peek,” he said. “I forgot what angle I saw it from, but I saw for sure that no doubt it was in. Under him but I saw the puck in for sure over the line.”
The NHL’s statement on the play said only that “video review was inconclusive.” From the other end of the rink, that was fine with Leafs goaltender James Reimer.
“I don’t know how many more replays they have. It was kind of obvious the puck was in the net seeing as how his entire body was in the net, but I don’t know if they could see the puck or not,” Reimer said. “Obviously I think that’s the right call.”
Based on his flashback to Kane and Price in the 2007 world junior semifinals, van Riemsdyk wasn’t confident the Leafs would get that call.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect there,” he said.