The Lightning entered Wednesday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Avalanche on a mission. With a win against Colorado (-105), the two-time defending Cup winners could tie the series at two games apiece and turn the NHL’s championship round into a de facto best of three.
It’s hard to argue that Tampa Bay could’ve gotten off to a better start, as Anthony Cirelli scored a goal 36 seconds into the game to make it 1-0. Given that Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper lost his helmet in the initial chaos of the goal, one might have argued whether the goal should have actually counted:
COMING IN HOT pic.twitter.com/MfmSVUuQtD
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 23, 2022
Oh no. It’s never great to see a goalie have their face exposed while facing rocket-like shots. Officials were obligated to protect Kuemper and blow the play (and goal) dead, right?
Rule 9.6: When a goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask and … the opposing team has control of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) June 23, 2022
No automatic whistle for losing your helmet. Play goes on with an imminent scoring chance and they don’t get much more imminent than that. Good goal. Right call. #GoBolts lead #GoAvsGo #COLvsTBL #StanleyCup
— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) June 23, 2022
There you have it. Provided the opposing team didn’t take the goalie’s mask off with one of their sticks (in this case, it appears it was a shot/puck that did it): Officials won’t wipe an impending scoring chance off the board because a goalie doesn’t have their mask.
Fans on hockey Twitter were confused and less than pleased by the ruling that put the Lightning in a pole 1-0 position and the Avalanche immediately behind the eight-ball.
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