The NHL installed crossbar-mounted cameras before the post-season began, and Game 6 of the first-round series between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild made it clear exactly why the cameras were a necessary addition.
After the Stars took a 4-0 lead heading into the third period, the Wild clawed back to make the contest 4-3. Dallas pulled ahead shortly thereafter thanks to a fortunate bounce that resulted in their fifth goal, but Jason Pominville’s marker with less than five minutes remaining brought the Wild within one to set up a frantic finish. And in the final minute, Minnesota came a mere fraction of an inch from forcing overtime.
With the Wild net empty and Minnesota pressuring the Stars, the puck was worked below the goal line and back out front where Nino Niederreiter knocked the puck into the pad of netminder Kari Lehtonen. At first, it appeared the puck came nowhere close to crossing the goal. However, the play was reviewed and showed the difference between the Wild tying the contest and falling one goal short of knotting the score was less than half an inch:
Even though Minnesota managed to own the puck in the Stars end for much of the final 45 seconds thanks to three consecutive faceoff wins by captain Mikko Koivu, the Wild came up empty handed and fell one goal shy of completing the improbable comeback. Niederreiter’s attempt is the closest the Wild came to evening the score before the end of the contest.
Whether fans are in favor of the devices or not, the blueline cameras that were installed ahead of the playoffs have already proven their usefulness in deciding close offside plays. And if anyone had questioned the importance of the crossbar cameras, Sunday’s decision on the Niederreiter attempt has made it evident that they’re likely here to stay.