It took seven goals, three overtimes, 144 combined saves and one questionable call to decide Penguins-Rangers Game 1.
New York and Pittsburgh ended just before midnight on the East Coast, when Evgeni Malkin slapped in the game-winner in the third overtime to give Pittsburgh the 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
While Malkin’s goal was the game-winner, the game may have actually been decided in the third period, when a Filip Chytil goal was taken off the board thanks to a questionable goalie interference call on Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko.
Kakko, streaking toward the net, appeared to try and cut across the front of the crease when Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin maked contact with him from behind. Whether it due to the contact or not, Kakko is sent careening into goaltender Casey DeSmith, taking him out of the play. From his stomach, Kakko sent a pass in front of the net, where Chytil planted the go-ahead goal.
Kakko drives the net and the goal was waived off due to goalie interference. Did the refs get it right?
— That’s Hockey Talk (@ThatsHockeyTalk)
After a review, the goal was taken off the board, and the game would go into overtime (and then another, and then another).
The NHL situation room in Toronto explained why the call on the ice was overturned:
Video review determined New York’s Kaapo Kakko impaired Casey DeSmith’s ability to play his position in the crease prior to Filip Chytil’s goal. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1 which states, in part, ‘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.
There is a caveat to the rule, in that if a player “has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper,” then the play may stand, as long as attacking player makes an effort to avoid the goaltender.
So, it’s safe to assume that NFL officials didn’t feel as though Kakko made enough of an effort to steer clear of DeSmith on the play.
Speaking postgame, Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant was at peace with the decision.
“To me, it was a 50-50 call, and I felt it was going to go against us. I can’t argue with that,” he said.
DeSmith would later exit the game with an apparent injury, leading to Louis Domingue finishing out the win with 17 saves of his own.