No shot, no save? Or is it no control, no goal?

Last night the Florida Panthers were handed their first loss of the 2016-17 season in a shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers had the chance to return to Sunrise with their first 3-0 start in franchise history, but last minute last 5.5-second heroics from Steven Stamkos sent the game into overtime. The Panthers escaped overtime despite going down a man, putting their well-practiced penalty kill on display once again this season.

And then came the shootout. It was weird.

After 2.5 rounds, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was ready to seal his team’s victory with a save against Vincent Trocheck. But despite Trocheck briefly losing control of the puck, Bishop never technically made a save.

Trocheck is no stranger to controversy over goals that could-have-been, but this time, he scored a goal that might-not-have-been. In fact, this one was ruled no goal on the ice, and as the Lightning were celebrating their victory, Trocheck argued his case.

The 2016-17 NHL Official Rules seem pretty clear in their description of penalty shots/shootout goals:

“The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete. No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line or comes to a complete stop, the shot shall be considered complete.”

But that aforementioned clarity in the rulebook seems to crumble a bit in its application to this particular shootout attempt. As I watched the game in real time, I thought there was absolutely no way the initial ruling would be overturned. It looked to me, and to all of Amalie Arena, that once Trocheck fumbled his own deke, the attempt was over and his subsequent shot into the net was just a desperate play in frustration of losing. Upon further review, however, the shot and protest of Trocheck turned out to be a display of his cool nerve and practical hockey IQ, whether or not you agree with the call.

The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete.

I can’t honestly claim to know what the right call is here. Plenty of people think Toronto got it wrong, as the puck was no longer in motion towards the opponent’s goal line. But on the other hand, the puck was continuously kept in some type of motion and Trocheck didn’t actually shoot until after he gathered the lost puck, only then fulfilling the “complete play” portion of the rule.

Trocheck obviously thought he had scored to extend the shootout, and his challenge of the no-goal call on the ice was rewarded. Whether or not it was the right call depends on your interpretation of the rule, and maybe a little bit on what color jersey you were wearing last night.

I feel like this is one of the weirdest scenarios we’ve seen in a shootout, and I’ve dubbed it the Schrödinger’s cat of shootout attempts, as it seems to be both a good goal and not a goal at the same time.

In the end it didn’t matter, as Tampa Bay went on to clinch the win in the shootout anyway. For which I am thankful. Not because my team lost, but because the Panthers don’t need any bad karma moving forward this year.

We’ll take the point.

Born in the “non-traditional” hockey market of South Florida, Elizabeth (Beth) quickly grew to love the sport at a very young age after her Buffalo-bred family introduced her to the Sabres. High school friends who didn’t care about hockey couldn't understand her withdrawals during the 2004-05 lockout, but college would bring a hockey loving boyfriend (and best friend) to whom she could finally relate. A South Florida native himself, and an avid Florida Panthers fan, he got her into the home team. Together they work for their college hockey club (the FAU Owls), broadcasting games. Beth is a huge USA Hockey fan and hopes to see them win Olympic gold in her lifetime. Between her 2 favorite NHL teams, her college squad, and USA Hockey, it's hard to tell which team she loves most, but she is passionate about them all.


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